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Hong Kong Retail Slumps as Restrictions Tighten

Apr 3, 2022 4:40 AM   By Rapaport News
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Hong Kong’s hard-luxury market saw sales plunge for the first time in more than a year amid a resurgence of Covid-19 and further government restrictions to stem the spread of the virus.

Revenue from jewelry, watches, clocks and valuable gifts fell 34% year on year to HKD 2.21 billion ($281.8 million) in February, the municipality’s Census and Statistics Department reported Thursday. Retail sales for the category had grown in each quarter throughout 2021.

The change in the timing of the Chinese New Year — which fell in early February, versus mid-February a year ago — also hurt sales. Consumer spending is generally at its highest prior to the festival, meaning that most people shopped in January this year but in February last year, the federation noted.

Sales in all retail categories dropped 15% to HKD 25.21 billion ($3.22 billion).

“The value of retail sales fell sharply in February over a year earlier as the rapid worsening of [the] local epidemic situation, and further tightening of anti-epidemic measures in response, led to a drastic fall in people flow and weaker consumption sentiment,” a government spokesperson said.

In the first two months of the year, sales of jewelry, watches, clocks and valuable gifts decreased 13% to HKD 5.82 billion ($743.6 million). Proceeds from all retail segments fell 5% to HKD 59.04 billion ($7.55 billion).

The government did not expect sales to recover in the next few months, it said. However, it was hopeful a new series of vouchers would boost sales in the second quarter.

“Looking ahead, while the local epidemic has shown signs of easing of late, the retail sector will continue to face notable pressure in the near term,” the spokesperson explained. “The government has rolled out various relief measures, with an aim of preserving the vitality of the economy and paving the way for a speedy recovery once the epidemic subsides. The upcoming disbursal of the new round of electronic consumption vouchers in April should also provide some support to the retail sector.”

Image: Mong Kok shopping district, Hong Kong. (Pixabay)
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Tags: Census and Statistics Department, COVID-19, hong kong retail, Jewelry, Rapaport News
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