In Focus
RETAIL | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Retail sales decline narrowed in November

Sales of department store commodities showed biggest fall.

Retail sales in Hong Kong continue to decline but the dip in sales narrowed in November 2020 based on the statistics released by the Census and Statistics Department.

Compared with 2019, the provisional value of total retail sales fell by 4% in November 2020, whilst the computed volume of total retail sales decreased by 4.7% in the same month.

The value of total retail sales was provisionally estimated at $28.7b.

However, the statistics showed a slowdown in the decline. In October, the volume of total retail sales was estimated at 9.2% and at 13.3% in September, compared with the statistics from a year before.

Analysed by broad type of retail outlet in descending order of the provisional estimate of the value of sales and comparing November 2020 with November 2019, statistics show department stores was the most affected by the decline in sales with the value of sales of commodities falling by 12.4%.

This was followed by sales of food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco (-8.8%); jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts (-16.1%); wearing apparel (-13.3%); medicines and cosmetics (-34.8%); fuels (-5.5%); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (-18.3%); books, newspapers, stationery and gifts (-17.7%); Chinese drugs and herbs (-15.2%); and optical shops (-16.5%).

Meanwhile, the statistics revealed that buyers prioritised electrical goods and other consumer durable goods which showed an increase of 22% in the value of sales.

Comparing the data from the provisional statistics of retail sales released for October, electrical goods bounced back from a decrease of 24.4%, whilst department store commodities experienced a decline from an increase of 11.7%.

According to the Census and Statistics Department, the YoY decline in retail sales narrowed primarily due to the notable increase in sales at retail outlets of consumer durable goods.

The Census and Statistics Department added that as inbound tourism remains at a standstill, and the fourth wave of the epidemic has weighed on local consumption sentiment since the latter part of November, the business environment of the retail trade will remain challenging in the near term.

The retail sales statistics measure the sales receipts in respect of goods sold by local retail establishments and are primarily intended for gauging the short-term business performance of the local retail sector. Data on retail sales are collected from local retail establishments through the Monthly Survey of Retail Sales (MRS). Local retail establishments with and without physical shops are covered in MRS and their sales, both through conventional shops and online channels, are included in the retail sales statistics

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