Shares of retailers, especially gold and jewellery sellers, fell yesterday, the first day after the "golden week" holiday on the mainland, amid concerns that retail sales during the period had been much weaker than expected.
The Hong Kong Retail Management Association said it had revised expected sales growth for the period to 5 per cent from 8 per cent.
Luk Fook Holdings (International) was the biggest loser, falling 7.89 per cent, followed by Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group, with a 6.36 per cent drop.
The Hang Seng Index fell 0.89 per cent.
Chow Sang Sang Holdings International, which fell 4.48 per cent, and luxury watch retailers Hengdeli Holdings and Emperor Watch & Jewellery, which lost 5.45 per cent and 5 per cent, respectively, were also among the 10 biggest losers on the stock exchange.
"Jewellery and watch sellers targeted at mainland consumers reported single- or double-digit drops year on year," the association said. "The expectation in these sectors had been for a lower-end, double-digit increase."
Michael Cheng, a partner at PricewaterhourseCoopers, said: "The share of luxury sales in total retail sales is going to be down by one to two percentage points."
Cheng said luxury sales accounted for 22 per cent of the overall retail sector, with about 40 per cent of the luxury spending coming from mainland tourists.
He also said cosmetics and electronic products were doing better than jewellery and watches. Sa Sa International Holdings yesterday announced in a filing to the stock exchange that its sales grew 19.5 per cent in the week to October 7.
James Tien Pei-chun, the chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, said 960,000 mainland tourists came to Hong Kong during the eight-day holiday, compared with 770,000 last year.
Tien said this was largely because of an extra day of holiday this year. "If you strip out that day, it comes down to an 11 per cent increase."
He said retailers had reported that the spending pattern of mainlanders had changed. "They are no longer buying expensive watches and jewellery. Instead, they are spending more on affordable items. It might still be a watch but it will be a less expensive one."
In the first half of this year, 15 per cent more mainland tourists visited the city but their spending rose just 5 per cent, according to Tien.
Hong Kong is considered a shopping paradise by mainlanders, who flock here to buy duty-free products. The yuan's appreciation in recent years has only fed their shopping frenzy. But tourist spending is beginning to wane as the mainland economy shows signs of slowing.
On the mainland, retail sales rose 15 per cent during the golden week, reaching 800.6 billion yuan (HK$987.2 billion). The growth was better than expected but still slower than the 17.5 per cent rise seen last year.