Hong Kong August retail sales slip, tight financial conditions dim outlook

Hong Kong August retail sales slip, tight financial conditions dim outlook
FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective masks walk inside the International Finance Center (IFC) shopping mall, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Hong Kong, China September 14, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo

HONG KONG : Hong Kong’s retail sales in August edged down on an annual basis while the growth rate also slowed from the month before, data released on Friday showed, and an official warned that tightening conditions poses risks for the outlook.

Retail sales in August stood at HK$28.6 billion ($3.64 billion), up 0.9 per cent from July’s HK$28.3 billion when it rose 4.1 per cent, and down 0.1 per cent from a year ago, according to the official data.

For the first eight months, the total retail sales value decreased 1.5 per cent compared with the same period last year.

“The increasingly tight financial conditions will pose constraints,” a government spokesman said.

In volume terms, retail sales in August fell 2.9 per cent from a year earlier. That compared with a revised 1.1 per cent growth in July. For the first eight months of the year, the volume decreased 4.5 per cent from a year earlier.

COVID-19 restrictions have weighed on the economy since early 2020, grinding tourism to a halt and battering sales at bars, restaurants and shops.

Hong Kong’s economy contracted 1.3 per cent in the second quarter from a year earlier, marking the second consecutive quarter of year-on-year gross domestic product (GDP) contraction for the Asian financial hub.

However, the city’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate eased to 4.1 per cent in the June-August quarter, improving for the fourth consecutive period as economic activities revived in an easing COVID situation and support from a consumption voucher scheme.

In August, sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts, which before the pandemic relied heavily on tourists from the mainland, rose 4.3 per cent from a year earlier, following a revised 30.1 per cent jump in July, the data showed.

Sales of clothing, footwear and allied products in August fell 8.4 per cent year-on-year after a revised 2.4 per cent rise in July.

Tourist arrivals in August rose 451.4 per cent from a year earlier to 59,610. That compared with a 454.4 per cent jump in July.

Online retail sales in August increased 21.3 per cent year-on-year in value terms, compared with a revised 8.4 per cent rise in July. It was up 21.7 per cent for the first eight months of 2022.

($1 = 7.8497 Hong Kong dollars)


Source: Reuters