RETAIL | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Retail sales fall 11.4% to $34.4b in July

Sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts crashed 24.4% YoY.

Total retail sales continued to fall after dropping by 11.4% YoY to $34.4b in July compared to the same period last year, and will likely stay weak in the near term, according to data from the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD). Meanwhile, for the first seven months of 2019, the provisionally estimated value of total retail sales dipped by 3.8% YoY compared to the same period in 2018.

The decline was attributed to a dampened consumer sentiment due to trade tensions and subdued economic conditions, as well as “significant disruptions to inbound tourism and consumption-related activities arising.”

An unnamed government spokesperson further commented that, “The situation may even deteriorate further if the social incidents involving violence do not come to a stop.”

Also read: Year-end retail sales may fall by up to 8.1% as protests ravage Hong Kong

The sales value of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts recorded the steepest decline with a 24.4% YoY fall. This was followed by the sales of medicines and cosmetics, which slipped 16.1% YoY; the sales of wearing apparel, which tumbled down 13.0% YoY; electrical goods and other consumer durable goods, which diminished by 17.4% YoY; and optical shops with a 17.8% YoY fall.

Furthermore, the value of sales of food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco decreased by 2.3% YoY. Other sectors that recorded declines in the value of sales include the commodities in department stores (-10.4% YoY); motor vehicles and parts (-5.8%); fuels (-0.1%); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (-10.1%); books, newspapers, stationery and gifts (-6.0%); and Chinese drugs and herbs (-5.8%).

In contrast, the value of sales of commodities in supermarkets inched up 1% YoY during the month.

Also readRetail sales fall 6.7% to $35.2b in June

“Retail sales worsened further to post a double-digit year-on-year fall in July, reflecting the weak local consumer sentiment and significant disruptions to inbound tourism and consumption-related activities arising from the recent local social incidents,” commented a government spokesperson, according to the C&SD release.

Netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the provisional estimate of the volume of total retail sales in July 2019 decreased by 13% YoY; whilst for the first seven months of 2019 taken together, the provisional estimate of the total retail sales decreased by 4.4% YoY.

OCBC also dimmed their forecasts following the latest retail numbers.

“Going forward, we expect the decline in retail sales to worsen in August. Should protests prolong and trade war escalate further in the rest of this year, retail sales may drop by 10% over 2019. This suggests that the unemployment of the retail sector could edge higher. Meanwhile, given the faltering outlook of the retail sector, retail shop price (-3% yoy in June) and rental (+1% yoy in June) are set to drop in the coming months,” commented OCBC.

Photo by kentwang (Wikimedia Commons).

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