Hong Kong retail sales decline widens

The decline in Hong Kong retail sales widened in November, although the market is still performing better than in the previous quarter.

Official government data shows the value of sales in November 2016, provisionally estimated at $36 billion, decreased by 5.5 per cent compared with the same month in 2015.

However, a government spokesman said that while Hong Kong retail sales saw a somewhat widened year-on-year decrease in November, the decline in sales in October and November combined was still smaller than during the third quarter.

He attributed the trend to the impact of reduced tourist spending on some big-ticket items during the month.

The revised estimate of the value of total retail sales in October 2016 decreased by 2.9 per cent year-on-year. For the first 11 months of 2016, it is provisionally estimated total retail sales decreased by 8.6 per cent year-on-year.

After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, November sales fell by 5.6 per cent. For the first 11 months of 2016, total retail sales decreased by 7.6 per cent in volume.

As usual, watches and jewellery drove the value decline, falling 14.4 per cent year-on-year. Sales of electrical goods and cameras fell by 27.3 per cent (but account for a smaller share of the total retail market).   

Supermarket sales fell 1.1 per cent in value, medicines and cosmetics by 3 per cent, books, newspapers, stationery and gifts by 5.8 per cent and eyewear by 1.3 per cent.

On the other hand, sales in department stores rose by 1.7 per cent, and apparel by 4.1 per cent. Food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco sales rose by 0.9 per cent, footwear and accessories by 1.5 per cent, furniture by 1.9 per cent and Chinese drugs and herbs by 2.7 per cent.

Based on the seasonally adjusted series, the provisional estimates of the value and volume of total retail sales both increased by 4.7 per cent in the three months ending November 2016 over the preceding three-month period.

The government spokesman said the future performance of Hong Kong retail sales will depend on whether inbound tourism improves “and whether the various external uncertainties would affect local consumer sentiment”.

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