Hong Kong retail sales continued their downward trajectory in August, although the pace was slower than in July.
According to the Census and Statistics Department, overall retail sales fell by 13.1 per cent year on year, which compares with a revised estimate of a 23.1-per-cent decline in July.
For the first eight months of this year, Hong Kong retail sales are down by 30.2 per cent.
A government spokesman attributed the weakness in August to the third wave of the Covid-19 in the territory, adding that while the decline appeared to have narrowed visibly between July and August, that was largely due to a very low base of comparison.
“Looking ahead, as economic conditions remain under pressure and inbound tourism is unlikely to show any swift recovery in the near term, the business environment of the retail trade will remain difficult. Nonetheless, local consumption sentiment may further improve if the recent stabilisation of the local epidemic situation sustains,” the spokesman said.
The most significant contributing category to August’s decline was food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco sales, which decreased by 15.7 per cent. Sales by department stores fell by 9.2 per cent, of jewellery, watches and valuable gifts by 37.8 per cent, of apparel by 29.6 per cent, of medicines and cosmetics by 39.8 per cent, of books, newspapers, stationery and gifts by 36.3 per cent, footwear and accessories by 42.9 per cent, Chinese drugs and herbs by 24.9 per cent, and optical shops by 35.2 per cent.
A greater than usual number of categories showed growth during the month: Supermarket sales rose by 10.8 per cent, electrical goods and other consumer durable goods by 10.1 per cent, other consumer goods not otherwise classified by 5.9 per cent, and furniture and homewares by 8 per cent.