A sluggish retail sector could weigh down Hong Kong’s economic growth, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah warned on Monday.
A decline seen in retail sales in the first three months of this year is expected to continue, Tsang said ahead of the release of April data.
Figures unveiled earlier showed that retail sales in the territory slid 2.3 percent in the first quarter of 2015, compared to the corresponding period last year.
The lackluster sales stemmed from internal as well as external factors, including a structural change in the composition of mainland visitors to Hong Kong, Tsang told lawmakers, according to the Hong Kong Economic Journal.
Sales of luxury goods saw a bigger drop in the first quarter compared with other items.
However, Tsang said the latest cuts in import tariffs by mainland China are unlikely to have a huge impact on Hong Kong’s retail sector, given the limited variety of goods involved.
Chinese authorities have lowered the import duties on some apparel, skincare products and baby diapers, among other things, by an average of over 50 percent.
The Hong Kong government has said that it expects the city’s economic growth this year to come in the 1 to 3 percent range, while the inflation rate is seen at 2.7 percent.
Translation by Vey Wong
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