The Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) released the latest figures on retail sales on 29 August 2016.
The value of total retail sales in July 2016, provisionally estimated at $34.6 billion, decreased by 7.7% compared with the same month in 2015. The revised estimate of the value of total retail sales in June 2016 decreased by 8.9% compared with a year earlier. For the first seven months of 2016 taken together, the value of total retail sales decreased by 10.1% compared with the same period in 2015.
A government spokesman indicated that retail sales were still weak in July, although the decline on a year-on-year basis was slightly narrower than in the preceding two months. The performance in July was mainly dragged by the fall in visitor spending on some big-ticket items, and also reflected the more cautious local consumer sentiment amid an uncertain economic outlook.
Looking ahead, the near-term outlook for retail sales will continue to depend on the performance of inbound tourism and on whether the various external uncertainties would affect local consumer sentiment. The Government will continue to monitor closely the retail sales performance and its repercussions on the wider economy and job market.
Types of retail outlets
Analysed by broad type of retail outlet in descending order of value of sales and comparing July 2016 with July 2015, the value of sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts decreased by 26.2%. This was followed by sales of commodities in department stores (-6.9% in value); electrical goods and photographic equipment (-21.8%); motor vehicles and parts (-8.5%); miscellaneous consumer durable goods (-34.4%); fuels (-2.0%); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (-1.1%); Chinese drugs and herbs (-1.5%); and optical shops (-0.4%).
Local retail sector focus
The retail sales statistics measure the sales receipts in respect of goods sold by local retail establishments and are primarily intended for gauging the short-term business performance of the local retail sector.
They cover consumer spending on goods but not on services (such as those on housing, catering, medical care and health services, transport and communication, financial services, education and entertainment) which account for over 50% of the overall consumer spending.
Moreover, they include spending on goods in Hong Kong by visitors but exclude spending outside Hong Kong by Hong Kong residents. Hence they should not be regarded as indicators for measuring overall consumer spending.
For more information, download the full July 2016 Hong Kong retail sales report.