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Retail sales decline slows dramatically in Hong Kong, Singapore

The rate of decline in retail sales in the key Asian markets of Hong Kong and Singapore declined in November, suggesting a pathway towards slow recovery this year.

Hong Kong retail sales fell by 4 per cent, a rate less than half of October’s decline of 8.7 per cent. Sales for the first 11 months of last year were down 25.3 per cent on the same period in 2019.

In Singapore, sales were down by 2.9 per cent, (excluding motor vehicles) far less than October’s rate of 11 per cent. 

In both markets, tourist-driven categories again recorded the declines which contributed most to the overall figure. 

In Singapore, multiple online sales events such as Singles Day together with new mobile phone launches drove significant growth in e-commerce turnover which accounted for 14.3 per cent of all retail sales, up from 10.5 per cent in October. Half of November’s online sales were in the electronics category, including smartphones. 

In Hong Kong, a government spokesman said November’s narrowing decline was primarily due to a notable increase in sales at retail outlets of consumer durable goods. 

However, the spokesman said that as inbound tourism remained at a standstill, and the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic weighed on local consumption sentiment since the latter part of November, retailers will continue to face challenges in the near term.

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