Retail sales in Hong Kong plunged 4.1 percent year on year to HK$39 billion (US$5.03 billion) in May, the fourth consecutive month of decline, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Friday.
However, the figure narrowed from a 9.9 percent slump in April, the worst since the 2008-2009 financial crisis.
Sales of jewelry, watches and luxury gifts were the hardest hit, down 24.5 percent last month from the previous year, reflecting a sharp fall in high-end mainland visitors and a fading “golden day” effect, the report said.
Last month’s fall was in line with market expectations, compounded by a higher base of comparison last year when gold prices soared, Ryan Lam, an analyst with Hang Seng Bank, was quoted as saying.
He expects June retail sales to fall 6 percent and turn to positive growth in the second half.
Retailers are worried the market will worsen if the Hong Kong government restricts the number of solo visitors from the mainland and if cross-border relations further deteriorate over Hong Kong’s demands for political reform, the report said.
Caroline Mak, chairperson of the Hong Kong Retail Management Association, expects negative growth in retail sales in the first half.
Mak said the association’s previous forecast for 5 percent growth this year could be revised down if retail sales continue to worsen in June.
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