Hong Kong’s retail sales fell for the 19th straight month in September as China’s economic slowdown and a strong local currency crimped business activity and tourism, though the rate of decline eased from the previous month.
Retail sales slid 4.1 percent from a year earlier to HK$33.8 billion ($4.36 billion) in value terms, after a 10.5 percent decline in August, government data showed on Thursday.
In volume terms, September sales dropped 3.9 percent on-year, compared to a 11 percent decline in August.
“The near-term outlook for retail sales is still subject to uncertainty, depending on the performance of inbound tourism as well as the extent to which local consumer sentiment will be affected by various external uncertainties,” the Hong Kong government said in a statement.
Once a favourite shopping destination for mainland Chinese, those tourists are now heading to other cities, including Japan and South Korea, which offer cheaper travel options.
Hong Kong’s currency is pegged to the U.S. dollar, which means it is prone to strengthen when other Asian currencies weaken.
Tourist arrivals in September fell 3 percent from a year earlier to 4.42 million. That followed a 9.4 percent fall in August.
Mainland China visitors, who account for 75.4 percent of the total, fell 5 percent to 3.33 million in September after a 11.3 percent decline in August.
Total tourism spending associated with inbound tourism fell 13.6 percent to HK$143.62 billion in the first half of 2016 compared with the same period a year earlier, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board.