Golden week fails to lift Hong Kong sales figures

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 November, 2013, 4:10am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 November, 2013, 6:19pm

Lacklustre National Day holiday golden week sales barely lifted Hong Kong's retail sales figures last month, according to statistics released yesterday by the Hong Kong Retail Management Association.

The initial estimate for citywide retail sales for the month was HK$37.8 billion, up 6.3 per cent year on year.

Last month performed just slightly better than September, when retail sales growth was at its slowest this year at just 5 per cent.

The volume of retail sales for the past three months fell 3.1 per cent when compared with the preceding three-month period.

The latest monthly figures once again highlighted Hong Kong retailers' reliance on mainland spenders.

Association chairwoman Caroline Mak Sui-king said staples such as food, cars, tobacco and alcohol, electronics and furniture were either flat or negative while the best-performing categories, such as medicine and cosmetics, which saw 11.7 per cent growth, did so on the back of mainland tourist spending.

The worst performers were electronics and photographic equipment, which fell 13.8 per cent year on year, and furniture and fixtures, which were down 10 per cent.

Jewellery, watches and valuable gifts, which grew the fastest, rose 16.8 per cent by volume but just 10.7 per cent by value, indicating that the average price of products sold had become cheaper.

"It matches the trend of fewer tourists from mainland tier-one cities coming and more tourists from outside tier-one cities," Mak said.

The outlook for the next few months is soft amid unusually warm weather and because Christmas falls close to Lunar New Year, which is on January 31.

Although department stores saw sales grow 9.7 per cent last month, Mak predicted weak results this month.

"Department stores really are influenced by weather," she said. "They sell a lot of seasonal things such as clothes, blankets or electronics like heaters. November was so warm, there was definitely an impact.

"I'm not sure that this last week, which finally became cold, was able to boost sales."

Mak said the short gap between Christmas and Lunar New Year would make life difficult for retailers, with Lunar New Year best for consumer spending when it fell in mid-February.