Retail sales plummet 18.3% in September|Hong Kong|

Retail sales plummet 18.3% in September

Updated: 2019-11-02 08:42

By Edith Lu in Hong Kong(HK Edition)

The dire situation facing Hong Kong’s retail sector continues – with retail sales in September plunging 18.3 percent year-on-year, according to industry statistics released on Friday.

Although the decline was less than the 22.9 percent drop in August – the steepest on record for a single month – it does not mean conditions were getting better, said Annie Tse Yau On-yee, chairperson of the Hong Kong Retail Management Association.

“The (comparatively modest) fall was within expectations, due to a lower comparison base in September last year,” she added.

Sales in most categories suffered. Luxury gifts, including jewelry, watches and clocks, led the falls. The drop in the value of sales of luxury products was the sharpest, with 40.8 percent. Even sales of commodities in supermarkets, which used to be resilient, fell 2.6 percent. Only the value of fuel sales increased, rising by 5.9 percent.

For the third quarter as a whole, the volume of retail sales fell by 19.5 percent year-on-year – almost on par with the record decline in the third quarter of 1998 during the Asian financial crisis.

A government spokesman noted that the riots in Hong Kong were continuing to deter tourists while reducing local consumption. The more pessimistic economic outlook is also dampening consumer sentiment and retail sales were likely to remain weak in the near future, the spokesman added.

The city has slipped into a recession for the first time in a decade, as government statistics showed on Thursday that Hong Kong’s economy shrank 2.9 percent year-on-year in the third quarter. GDP decreased by 3.2 percent in real terms compared with that of the April to June period.

Private consumption expenditure recorded its first year-on-year decline in more than 10 years. Mass demonstrations caused severe disruptions to the retail, catering and other consumption-related sectors.

An increasing number of stores in the food and beverage sector are closing in the city. LH Group, which runs Japanese brand Gyu-Kaku and Chinese restaurant chain The Banqueting House, closed three dining venues in a district hard hit by protests. The company has also shelved plans to open new noodle shops, Chairman and Chief Executive Simon Wong Kit-lung said on social media in October.

Tse of the Hong Kong Retail Management Association predicted more shops in the city would be forced to close in the near future.

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(HK Edition 11/02/2019 page2)

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