Golden Week

No golden week for retail stocks

Shares in the sector plunge on fears mainland shoppers are buying less during holidays

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 October, 2012, 2:43am

Retailing stocks declined yesterday in Hong Kong on worries that fewer mainland shoppers are visiting the city during the golden week holidays and consuming less.

The past few days of the National Day holidays have been disappointing for some Hong Kong retailers who had expected to boost their businesses during the week between September 30 and October 7.

"The customer traffic for the past few days is definitely lower than last year," said Ricky Ng, general manager of TSL Jewellery (Hong Kong).

"People are more interested in mid-to-low priced jewelleries. Few of them asked for expensive items." Government statistics show that the number of mainland arrivals to Hong Kong was 125,000 on the first day of the golden week, down 6 per cent from 133,000 last year.

The lukewarm sales in the first half of the holiday period have triggered declines in the share prices of many retailing companies. The price of shares in Sa Sa International Holdings dropped 3.8 per cent to HK$5.12 each, while Bonjour Holdings fell 2.9 per cent to HK$1.01 apiece, compared with a 0.23 rise in the benchmark Hang Seng Index.

Share prices of jewellery and watch sellers also fell yesterday. Chow Tai Fook Jewellery declined 3.1 per cent to HK$10.70 a share and Luk Fook Holdings was down 6 per cent to HK$24.25.

Tse Sui Luen Jewellery slumped 8.5 per cent at one stage after warning of a profit decline for the six months to August. The stock closed at HK$4.60 a share, down 4.4 per cent yesterday.

The number of mainland tourists to Macau grew slightly by 2.9 per cent from last Thursday to Monday, compared with double-digit growth in previous October golden weeks.

Ng said the first few days of the golden week are relatively quieter partly because many people choose to stay at home for the Mid-autumn Festival and the National Day. He said the number of shoppers increased Tuesday and yesterday.

And while jewellery sales look lacklustre, demand for cosmetics remained strong. Simon Kwok Siu-ming, chairman of Sa Sa International, said the sales for the first two to three days of the golden week will show double-digit growth compared with last year's sales.

Sales of Japan-made cosmetics products sold in Sa Sa shops were not affected by the recent anti-Japan sentiment among Chinese consumers, he added.