Retail sales fall 23pc but tills ring at supermarkets

Business | Winnie Lee 2 Sep 2020

Retail sales in Hong Kong fell for the 18th straight month but at a lower pace in July while supermarkets - among which two giants have received over HK$100 million each in subsidies - saw a double-digit increase in sales.

The total value of retail sales fell 23.1 percent from a year ago to HK$26.5 billion in July, better than market expectations, compared to a 24.7 percent year-on-year decrease in June.

ParknShop has received over HK$160 million of government subsidies while Dairy Farm, the parent of Wellcome Supermarket, has received a subsidy of over HK$390 million. The government required the two chains to offer discounts for customers and non-governmental organizations from September to November as the pair had received the largest subsidies in the first tranche of the employment support scheme.

ParknShop said it will shoulder any rise in product costs while Wellcome Supermarket said prices on its new product brand Meadows have been slashed by 20 percent.

Supermarkets were winners amid the pandemic, with total sales value increasing 26.5 percent in July over a year earlier, while almost all other sales fell.

Retail sales of jewelry, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts slumped by 53.7 percent from a year ago, while sales of medicines and cosmetics while also declining by 50.9 percent.

Sales of footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories plunged by 53.6 percent.

Fuel sales rose 3.8 percent, alongside a 0.3 percent rise in furniture and fixture sales.

A government spokesman said the retail business environment would continue to be very difficult in the near term as inbound tourism remains at a standstill.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong Television Network (1137), which received HK$32.75 million from the subsidies, saw its market capitalization exceed HK$10 billion after its shares rose for a second day in a row.

Chairman and founder Ricky Wong Wai-kay, who holds 365.05 million shares, or a 45.12 percent stake in the company, now has an accumulated a wealth of HK$4.39 billion, higher than the market cap of HKTV rival TVB (0511), which was only HK$3.72 billion, as of yesterday.

Shares of HKTV jumped 14.67 percent to close at HK$12.04.

In other news, Yata's department store in Sha Tin will open a new egg-themed konbini (convenience store) on September 6.

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