Insatiable Hong Kong shoppers in HK$40.5 billion spending spree as city records fourth straight month of double-digit growth

Retail association puts 12.9 per cent growth in May down to rise in number of tourists and boost in local consumption

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 July, 2018, 7:31am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 July, 2018, 8:38am

Hong Kong shoppers spent a whopping HK$40.5 billion (US$5 billion) in May as the city’s retail sector recorded its fourth consecutive month of double-digit growth.

The Hong Kong Retail Management Association said on Tuesday that the 12.9 per cent increase stemmed from a rise in tourists and an uptick in local consumption. Growth in the previous month was 12.2 per cent.

Thomson Cheng Wai-hung, the association’s chairman, said a stronger yuan also played its part, with some of the group’s 9,000 members predicting a rise of 8 to 9 per cent in the second half of the year.

However, Cheng also cautioned that a volatile stock market and the looming US-China trade war, as well as a recent fall in the yuan against the Hong Kong dollar, could affect growth later in 2018.

“The figures look good,” Cheng said. “But, in the second half of this year, [the retail sector] may see some uncertainty.”

The World Cup in Russia could affect the June figures, Cheng said, with sales of food and drink expected to increase over the course of the tournament, which runs until July 14.

Two public holidays in May – Labour Day and Buddha’s Birthday – helped boost performance in the retail sector as the breaks allowed Hongkongers and mainlanders to do more shopping in the city, Cheng said.

Sales in all types of retail outlets recorded increases, while eight posted double-digit growth. Sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts performed the best, tallying increases of 23.8 per cent.

Cheng said growth should be sustainable with retail on an upward trend, while a government spokesman expected the outlook in the near term to remain positive, citing a robust labour market and sustained growth in inbound tourism.

There were 4.95 million visitors to the city in May, up 8 per cent from 4.59 million from a year earlier, according to the Tourism Board’s latest statistics.

Hong Kong retail sales will continue to rebound in 2018, industry experts predict

About three-quarters of them, or 3.82 million, came from the mainland, an increase of 10.6 per cent.

Some 2.24 million visitors stayed overnight, a rise of 2.7 per cent, and 1.48 million of them were from across the border.

During the first five months of this year Hong Kong recorded 25.86 million visitors, a 9.6 per cent jump when compared to the same period last year. About 20.1 million of them were from the mainland.