Hong Kong's retailers facing unprecedented economic challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic and a grinding halt to tourism, are staring at further financial disaster as sales plumbed new depths, sinking by 44 percent in February from the year before.
The value of total retail sales in February was provisionally estimated at HK$22.7 billion, the Census and Statistics Department, reported today. The plunge in the value was twice as worse compared with January sales, which had tumbled by 21.5 percent from a year earlier.
In the first two months, retail sales are down by 31.8 percent compared with the same period in 2019.
In February, the worst performer was jewelry, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts, which dived by 58.6 percent.
Supermarkets, on the other hand, thrived in the first two months, benefiting from the virus-triggered rush to stock up on essentials. Sales of commodities shot up by 11.1 percent in the first two months.
A government spokesman said that the year-on-year fall in retail sales volume widened sharply in February and was the steepest for a single month on record.
Excluding the effect of price changes over the same period, the volume of retail sales in February plunged by 46.7 percent. This is a provisional estimate.
This sharp fall mainly reflects the heavy blow dealt by the coronavirus that emereged in China last December to tourism- and consumption-related sectors, although the distortions from the timing of the Lunar New Year also contributed.
In the first two months, the volume of retail sales plunged by 33.9 percent from a year earlier.