Retail sales in Hong Kong fell unexpectedly in November, as the region struggled to shrug off the ongoing effects of the pandemic and its associated restrictions, amidst a slowing global economy.
November retail sales value fell 4.2 percent from a year ago to HKD 29.5 billion (USD 3.77 billion), the Census and Statistics Department said Wednesday, the biggest decline since March, when sales plunged 13.8 percent.
The downfall was far worse than the forecast of a 4.8 percent rise in a survey of economists, and lower than the 4 percent increase in October.
Sales volumes decreased 5.3 percent, compared with economists’ expectations of a 3.3 percent rise, with a government spokesman saying in a statement that the retail business had “softened” in November. That compared with a revised 2.5 percent increase in October.
In November, sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts, fell 8.3 percent from a year earlier, following a 13.6 percent expansion in October, the data showed.
Sales of clothing, footwear and accessories in November declined 15.2 percent on the year after a 4.9 percent drop in October.
Tourist arrivals in November soared 10 times from a year earlier to 113,763. That compared with a 760.9 percent jump in October.Online retail sales in November rose 9.4 percent year-on-year in value terms, compared with a revised 35.1 percent growth in October.
For the first eleven months, the total retail sales value eased 1.1 percent compared with the same period a year earlier. Online sales jumped 21.9 percent for the first eleven months of 2022.
The retail sales update comes after Hong Kong cancelled mainstay Covid-19 rules from last Thursday, meaning arrivals no longer need to do mandatory PCR tests, while the city’s vaccine pass has also been scrapped.
Hong Kong is also working to resume quarantine-free travel with mainland China by as early as January 8, according to media reports.