According to data released on 31st March by the city’s Census and Statistics Department, Hong Kong’s retail sales plunged 14.6 percent in February from a year ago, the biggest decline since July 2020. Hong Kong’s retail sales dropped as the fifth wave of COVID-19 and anti-epidemic measures heavily impacted footfall and consumer sentiment last month.
The fall in sales value was even worse than the median estimate of a 7.7 percent decline expected by economists in a Bloomberg survey. In terms of volume, sales dropped 17.6 percent from a year prior.
Of the total retail sales value in February 2022, online sales accounted for 10.8 percent. The value of online retail sales in that month, provisionally estimated at HK$2.7 billion, increased by 50 percent compared with the same month in 2021.
For the period January – February 2022, sales of electrical goods and other consumer durable goods, not elsewhere classified decreased by 11.4 percent in value; jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts (-13.1 percent); commodities in department stores (-8.9 percent); wearing apparel (-14.3 percent); motor vehicles and parts (-23.1 percent); furniture and fixtures (-13.7 percent); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (-21.5 percent); Chinese drugs and herbs (-2.7 percent); books, newspapers, stationery and gifts (-13.2 percent); and optical shops (-15.6 percent). On the other hand, the value of sales of commodities in supermarkets increased by 8.2 percent in the first two months of 2022 over the same period a year earlier. This was followed by sales of other consumer goods, not elsewhere classified (+5.7 percent in value); medicines and cosmetics (+5.0 percent); and fuels (+0.6 percent).
Looking ahead, a government’s spokesman pointed out that while the local epidemic has shown signs of easing of late, the retail sector will continue to face notable pressure in the near term. The easing of social distancing rules in phases and the upcoming disbursal of the new round of electronic consumption vouchers in April may provide some support to the retail sector but more relief measures will have to be implemented to address the crisis Hong Kong retail sector is facing.