August sees record slump in retail sales

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Hong Kong saw the biggest year-on-year drop on record in its retail sales, with total sales value and volume in August slumping 23 percent and 25.3 percent compared with a year earlier, respectively, as the months-long protests are taking a larger toll on the city’s economy.

The value of total retail sales in August decreased for the seventh consecutive month to HK$29.4 billion, worsening from an 11.5 percent year-on-year decline in July. The shortfall in the volume of total retail sales meanwhile enlarged from a 13.1 percent decrease in July compared with a year earlier.

For the first eight months this year, the value of total retail sales decreased by 6 percent compared with the same period in 2018, with total volume sliding 6.9 percent.

Analyzed by broad type of retail outlet, the value of sales of jeweler, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts plunged by 47.4 percent, while sales value of commodities in department stores, medicines and cosmetics, as well as wearing apparel all fell by around 30 percent from a year ago.

"Retail sales showed further sharp deterioration in August and registered the steepest year-on-year decline for a single month on record, even worse than that recorded in September 1998 during the Asian Financial Crisis," said a government spokesman.

"Apart from the weak consumer sentiment amid subdued economic conditions, the plunge in August mainly reflected the severe disruptions to inbound tourism and consumption-related activities caused by the local social incidents," he said, adding that retail sales will likely remain in the doldrums in the near term, as the worsened economic outlook and local protests involving violence continue to weigh on consumer sentiment and inbound tourism.