RETAIL | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Retail sales grind to a halt at 2.4% to $36.6b in September

Trade tensions and typhoon Mangkhut were a double whammy.

Hong Kong’s retail sector rebound increasingly appears to have been short-lived after monthly sales inched up 2.4% to $36.6b in September to book its slowest pace of growth in 15 months, according to the Census & Statistics department.

The latest reading marks the third straight month of single-digit expansion after a heated double-digit growth rally which can be traced back to February.

Also read: Will Hong Kong's shopping boom meet another devastating end? 

Retail sales were hit after the destructive typhoon Mangkhut weighed in on inbound tourism which represent the driving force of the earlier retail rebound. On the local front, consumer sentiment soured amidst deepening US-Sino trade tensions and stock market corrections.

“[E]xternal uncertainties and weaker asset markets may increasingly affect consumer sentiment,” the government said in a statement.

The weakening yuan could also pose a risk to Mainland spending by dampening the attractiveness of Hong Kong goods.

Newspapers, stationery and gifts recorded the most significant sales increase in September at 8.2% followed by fuels at 6.7%. The sales of medicines and cosmetics; commodities in supermarkets; food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco; Chinese drugs and herbs also rose by 4.9%, 3.6%, 3.2% and 3.4% respectively.

On the other hand, the purchases of wearing apparel decreased by 3.8% along with sales of motor vehicles and parts and optical shops which fell 12.4% and 6.7% respectively.

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