RETAIL | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

January retail sales remain severe amidst COVID-19 outbreak

Value of sales dropped 21.4% to $37.8b compared to a year earlier.

Hong Kong retailers’ woes have no end in sight as the already muted retail environment turns more severe on the back of the COVID-19 outbreak, with retail sales dropping 21.4% YoY $37.8b in January, according to data from the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD).

This marks the 12th consecutive month of declines in the value of retail sales in Hong Kong.

C&SD blamed the drop in retail sales on the the timing of the Lunar New Year, which fell in late January this year.

The business environment of retail trade is also observed turned even more austere lately, as the threat of COVID-19 brought inbound tourism almost to a standstill and caused severe disruptions to consumption-related activities, a government spokesperson stated in the press release.

The luxury segment continues to be the most battered, with the value of sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts decreased by 41.6% YoY.

The sales of food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco also contracted 6.8% YoY in value; followed by other consumer goods, not elsewhere classified, which dropped 12.1%YoY; sales of medicines and cosmetics, which plunged 32.3% YoY.

Other segments that recorded a drop in sales values include wearing apparel (-28.9% YoY); commodities in department stores (-27.0% YoY); electrical goods and other consumer durable goods, not elsewhere classified (-20.4% YoY); motor vehicles and parts (-20.2% YoY); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (-21.6%YoY); and furniture and fixtures (-22.0% YoY.

The value of sales of Chinese drugs and herbs (-16.2%); books, newspapers, stationery and gifts; and optical shops also slipped 16.2% YoY, 25.9% YoY, and 23.9% YoY, respectively..

In contrast, the value of sales of commodities in supermarkets increased by 10.2% YoY in January 2020 over a year earlier. The sales of fuels also rose 12.3% YoY in value. 

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