Total retail sales in October estimated at HK$ 30.1 billion, a decrease of 24.3% compared with the same month in 2018

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2nd December 2019 – (Hong Kong) Census and Statistics Department announced today that the value of total retail sales in October 2019, provisionally estimated at $30.1 billion, decreased by 24.3% compared with the same month in 2018.  After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the provisional estimate of the volume of total retail sales in October 2019 decreased by 26.2% compared with a year earlier. The revised estimate of the volume of total retail sales in September 2019 decreased by 20.3% compared with a year earlier. For the first ten months of 2019 taken together, the provisional estimate of the total retail sales decreased by 10.0% in volume compared with the same period in 2018.

Analysed by broad type of retail outlet in descending order of the provisional estimate of the value of sales and comparing October 2019 with October 2018, the value of sales of electrical goods and other consumer durable goods, not elsewhere classified decreased by 16.0%. This was followed by sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts (-42.9% in value); food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco (-11.6%); commodities in department stores (-31.1%); medicines and cosmetics (-33.5%); wearing apparel (-36.9%); other consumer goods, not elsewhere classified (-23.3%); motor vehicles and parts (-19.9%); books, newspapers, stationery and gifts (-10.7%); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (-37.0%); furniture and fixtures (-8.2%); Chinese drugs and herbs (-18.9%); and optical shops (-26.5%).

On the other hand, the value of sales of commodities in supermarkets increased by 0.5% in October 2019 over a year earlier. This was followed by sales of fuels (+4.5% in value).

 Based on the seasonally adjusted series, the provisional estimate of the value of total retail sales decreased by 17.3% in the three months ending October 2019 compared with the preceding three-month period, while the provisional estimate of the volume of total retail sales decreased by 18.5%.

 These 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. Data on retail sales are collected from local retail establishments through the Monthly Survey of Retail Sales (MRS). Local retail establishments with and without physical shops are covered in MRS and their sales, both through conventional shops and online channels, are included in the retail sales statistics.

 The retail sales statistics 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.

 Users interested in the trend of overall consumer spending should refer to the data series of private consumption expenditure (PCE), which is a major component of the Gross Domestic Product published at quarterly intervals. Compiled from a wide range of data sources, PCE covers consumer spending on both goods (including goods purchased from all channels) and services by Hong Kong residents whether locally or abroad. Please refer to the C&SD publication “Gross Domestic Product (Quarterly)” for more details.

 A government spokesman said that retail sales continued to plunge in October and showed the largest year-on-year decline for a single month on record, as the local social incidents with increasing violence depressed consumption sentiment and severely disrupted tourism- and consumption-related activities.

The spokesman further pointed out that ending the violence in the local social incidents and restoring social order are crucial to the creation of an environment for the retail business to recover. The Government will closely monitor the situation and its repercussions on the labour market and the overall economy.