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Hong Kong Sales Drop Significantly

Nov 3, 2019 8:56 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... Sales of jewelry and other luxury items in Hong Kong plummeted in September as protests and unrest in the municipality hit tourism and consumption.

Revenue from jewelry, watches, clocks and other valuable gifts dropped 41% year on year to HKD 3.63 billion ($463.6 million) during the month, the municipality’s Census and Statistics Department reported Friday. That result was only a slight improvement on last month’s 47% drop, the largest monthly decline for jewelry since the department began publishing results in 2005. Sales across all retail categories slipped 18% to HKD 29.87 billion ($3.81 billion).

Pro-democracy demonstrations have escalated since June, hindering business at luxury stores, depressing inbound tourism and weakening local spending. The number of tourists visiting Hong Kong was down 34% to 3.1 million in September, the Hong Kong Tourism Board reported. Of those, 2.4 million came from mainland China, a decline of 35% over the same period last year. Hong Kong slipped into recession as the unrest caused the economy to slow in the third quarter, said Paul Chan, the municipality’s financial secretary. 

In the first nine months of the year, retail sales of jewelry, watches, clocks and other valuable gifts slid 17% to HKD 53.71 billion ($6.85 billion). Sales in all retail categories for the January-to-September period fell 7% to HKD 334.96 billion ($42.74 billion).

By volume, the overall retail decline for the nine-month period hit a near-record low.

“Retail sales saw another month of significant year-on-year decline in September, as the local social incidents continued to take a heavy toll on inbound tourism and consumption-related activities,” a government spokesperson noted. “For the third quarter as a whole, retail sales volume fell by 19.5% year on year, almost on par with the record decline in the third quarter of 1998.”

The government expects weakness in the market to continue as conditions persist, it explained.

“As protests involving violence continue to deter tourists and reduce local consumption, and the subdued economic outlook also dampens consumer sentiment, the performance of retail sales is likely to stay weak in the near term,” the spokesperson added.

Image: Hong Kong harbor. (Shutterstock)
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Tags: Census and Statistics Department, Hong Kong protests, hong kong retail, Hong Kong Tourism Board, Paul Chan, Rapaport News
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