Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, USA
Hong Kong
News Release



Provisional statistics of retail sales for February 2020

 



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March 31, 2020 - The Census and Statistics Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government released the latest figures on retail sales today.

The value of total retail sales in February 2020, provisionally estimated at HK$22.7 billion (US$2.9 billion), decreased by 44% compared with the same month in 2019. The revised estimate of the value of total retail sales in January 2020 decreased by 21.5% compared with a year earlier. For the first two months of 2020 taken together, it was provisionally estimated that the value of total retail sales decreased by 31.8% compared with the same period in 2019.

After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the provisional estimate of the volume of total retail sales in February 2020 decreased by 46.7% compared with a year earlier. The revised estimate of the volume of total retail sales in January 2020 decreased by 23.1% compared with a year earlier. For the first two months of 2020 taken together, the provisional estimate of the total retail sales decreased by 33.9% in volume compared with the same period in 2019.

In interpreting these figures, it should be noted that retail sales tend to show greater volatility in the first two months of a year due to the timing of the Lunar New Year. Consumer spending in the local market normally attains a seasonal high before the Festival. As the Lunar New Year fell on January 25 this year but on February 5 last year, it is more appropriate to analyze the retail sales figures for January and February taken together in making year-on-year comparison.

Based on the seasonally adjusted series, the provisional estimate of the value of total retail sales decreased by 11.0% in the three months ending February 2020 compared with the preceding three-month period, while the provisional estimate of the volume of total retail sales decreased by 11.7%.

A government spokesman said that the year-on-year fall in retail sales volume widened sharply in February and was the steepest for a single month on record. This mainly reflected the heavy blow to tourism- and consumption-related activities dealt by COVID-19, though the distortions from the timing of the Lunar New Year also contributed. Taking the first two months of 2020 together, retail sales volume plunged by 33.9% from a year earlier.

The spokesman further pointed out that the business environment of retail trade will remain extremely austere in the near term, as the COVID-19 pandemic has brought inbound tourism to a standstill and severely dented local consumption demand. The Government will closely monitor the situation and its repercussion on the overall economy and the employment market.


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