Hong Kong records third warmest December on record
But don’t get complacent; a cold snap is expected to hit the city next week
A cold snap set to hit the city next week could boost sales of winter clothes, after Hong Kong sweltered through the third warmest December in more than 130 years.
Retailers are pinning their hopes on the cold days ahead, when the mercury is forecast to dip to 13 degrees Celsius late next week.
Weather forecasters are also warning of the possibility of bitter weather hitting the city in the coming one or two months.
This is despite December recording a monthly mean temperature of 19.6 degrees, 1.7 degrees higher than the normal 17.9 degrees.
The warmest day was December 5, when the maximum temperature hit 25.9 degrees.
The warmest December was recorded in 1968 when the average monthly temperature hit 21.3 degrees. The second warmest came in 1994 when the mean temperature for the month was 19.8 degrees. Records were first kept in 1884,
Observatory chief experimental officer Li Kin-wai said the unusually warm weather was mainly due to the weak northeast monsoon over southern coastal areas.
“It is too early to say that the winter has gone. Hong Kong can still become very cold in January or February,” said Li, citing the big chill that hit the city in January last year, when the mercury dropped to 3.1 degrees on January 24 and frost and ice were seen on Tai Mo Shan – Hong Kong’s highest peak.
The Observatory says it will start turning cloudy and cool from early next week, with temperatures ranging from 16 degrees to 19 degrees next Tuesday. They will then drop further to 14 degrees next Thursday and 13 degrees on the following day.
Local clothing retailers, who felt the pinch after the unusual high temperatures last month, can expect to breathe a sigh of relief.
Economist Dr Billy Mak Sui-choi of Baptist University said: “Some stores had to hold on to big winter coats over Christmas and others had to offer price cuts as a way to get rid of them.”
“Crowds will now come back to grab thick clothes with a cold snap approaching.”
Lawmaker Peter Shiu Ka-fai, who represents the retail and wholesale sector, said: “The warm winter will not only hit clothing retailers, but also the sale of heaters.”
He expected a cold snap could also benefit the catering industry as more people may opt for hot pot meals.
Mariana Kou, head of Hong Kong consumer research at CLSA, echoed this view. “The warm weather won’t hit all retailers, but clothing retailers will certainly be affected,” she said, adding that one major problem facing the retail sector was the drop in the number of tourists with high purchasing power.
Official data showed that retail sales dropped by 5.5 per cent in value in November. The Retail Management Association predicted that total retail sales for last year would drop by 7 to 8 per cent.