Retail sales in Hong Kong across all categories resigtered an 8.1% drop in value terms and a 7.1% fall in volume terms, according to statistics released recently by the HK government. This is the third consecutive year of decline, the government said.
Sales in 2016 across categories was HK$436.6 billion ($56.3 billion) in value terms, with the 8.1% drop it represented being the largest annual fall in percentage terms since 1998.
The government reported that tourist traffic to the country continued to be slow with visitor arrivals in 2016 dropping by 4.5% to 56.65 million. The decline in visitors from Mainland China was higher at 6.7% with the total number of arrivals reaching 42.78 million.
For the month of December, total tourist arrivals were up 5.4%, a significant change considering the declines of 2.4% and 2.1% reported in October and November. Visitor traffic from the mainland rose 6.1%, the government said.
There was some relief for jewellers, as the sales in the ‘Jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts’ category finally snapped a 26-consecutive month stretch of decline dating back to October 2014, to register a 2.3% rise in value terms during the month of December. However, there was still cause for concern and the overall sluggishness continued with sales during the month down 1.3% in volume terms,
The HK Retail Management Association reported that most of its member companies forecast a mid sigle-digit growth to low double-digit drop for the combined sales value for January and February 2017.