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Published: 20:34, November 30, 2023 | Updated: 21:11, November 30, 2023
HK retail sales show moderate growth in October, up by 5.6%
By Li Xiaoyun in Hong Kong
Published:20:34, November 30, 2023 Updated:21:11, November 30, 2023 By Li Xiaoyun in Hong Kong

A man looks at clothing at an H&M store in the Causeway Bay district of Hong Kong on July 25, 2023. (PHOTO / AFP)

Buoyed by an ongoing revival of inbound tourism, Hong Kong’s retail sector sustained its upward momentum in October, with a year-on-year increase of 5.6 percent, according to official figures released on Thursday. However, industry insiders hold a pessimistic outlook for retail figures in the coming months. 

The provisional estimate of the value of total retail sales in October reached HK$33.8 billion ($4.33 billion), marking the 11th consecutive month of growth, the Census and Statistics Department said.

On a yearly basis, the sales value of wearing apparel increased by 29.9 percent in October, followed by jewelry, watches and clocks, and valuables, which rose by 27.4 percent

Preliminary estimates of the value for the first 10 months of 2023 saw an increase of 17.2 percent compared with the same period last year.

READ MORE: PwC forecasts 17% growth in HK's retail sales for 2023

The increased total retail sales can be attributed to the continued revival of inbound tourism, a government spokesperson said on Thursday, adding that “an expected further recovery of visitor arrivals should benefit the retail sector”.

Continued improvement in household income and various promotion campaigns launched to bolster the economy, including Night Vibes Hong Kong — which was rolled out to revitalize Hong Kong’s nighttime business — should also provide support, the spokesperson said.

However, “factors such as tight financial conditions and economic uncertainties would weigh on consumption sentiment,” the spokesperson added.

Online sales accounted for 11 percent of total retail sales in October with a provisionally estimated value of HK$3.7 billion, representing year-on-year growth of 8.4 percent. 

But for the first 10 months of the year, it was preliminarily estimated that online retail sales declined by 0.9 percent from the same period of 2022.

On a yearly basis, the sales value of wearing apparel increased by 29.9 percent in October, followed by jewelry, watches and clocks, and valuables, which rose by 27.4 percent. The most notable decline in sales value was seen in that of furniture and fixtures, decreasing by 24.8 percent in October. This was followed by fuels as well as electrical goods and other consumer durable goods, which saw contractions of 17.3 percent and 12.5 percent, respectively.  

The retail sales in local consumption categories, such as commodities in supermarkets and furniture are projected to see a single-digit improvement or low double-digit decline in November, Annie Tse Yau On-yee, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Retail Management Association, said. 

Double 11 online shopping gala and Black Friday, have negatively affected Hong Kong’s retail sales in terms of local categories in November

The trend of Hong Kong residents heading to Shenzhen for consumption and campaigns launched by e-commerce platforms, such as the Double 11 online shopping gala and Black Friday, have negatively affected Hong Kong’s retail sales in terms of local categories in November.

Looking to December, Tse said, despite Christmas being a traditional consumption season in Hong Kong, more than 40 percent of HKRMA’s member retailers anticipate a poor performance, with 70 percent expecting moderate growth. This can be attributed to residents using the holiday period to travel beyond Hong Kong, while the stimulation of local consumption will be somewhat subdued.

Nevertheless, surveyed retailers have rolled out extensive promotions and enticing discounts, aiming to kindle the holiday spirit and invigorate spending among both local residents and visitors, Tse said.

READ MORE: HK catering sector rebounds due to improved market, innovation

In light of the moderate performance of the retail sector in the second half of 2023, such as a growth rate of 5.6 percent in October, which is the lowest recorded so far this year, the HKRMA holds a pessimistic outlook for the first half of 2024. Tse said the association anticipates a single-digit or even low double-digit decline in retail sales for the first six months next year, unless there’s a substantial resurgence in tourism.


Contact the writer at irisli@chinadailyhk.com

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