Hong Kong April retail sales tumble 14.7% amid changing consumption pattern

By Thomson Reuters May 31, 2024 | 4:29 AM

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s April retail sales fell 14.7% from a year earlier, partly due to a drop in visitor spending and a surge in outbound trips during the Easter holidays, government data showed on Friday.

Sales decreased to HK$29.6 billion ($3.79 billion) in the second consecutive month of decline following a 7% drop in March.

In volume terms, retail sales fell 16.5% year-on-year in April, compared with a revised 8.7% decline in March.

“The changing consumption patterns of visitors and residents would continue to present challenges to the retail sector,” a government spokesman said.

“Nevertheless, the revival of inbound tourism, rising employment earnings, and the recent stabilisation of asset markets would provide support,” the spokesman said, adding the government’s efforts to promote a mega event economy would help.

Eight more Chinese cities have joined a scheme allowing their residents to travel to Hong Kong on their own, rather than as part of a tour group, in efforts to boost Hong Kong’s economy. The total number of cities in the scheme is now 59.

Hong Kong will host more than 100 mega events, including entertainment, conference and exhibitions, in the second half of year.

April visitor arrivals stood at 3.39 million, up 17.3% from a year-ago period, data from the Hong Kong Tourism Board showed. That compared with 3.4 million in March, 4.0 million in February and 3.8 million in January.

The number of mainland Chinese visitors stood at 2.48 million in April, up 7.8% from a year earlier. That compared to March’s 2.46 million, February’s 3.25 million and January’s 2.98 million. There are signs tourists are spending less.

Sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts fell 28.7% in April year-on-year after a 16.6% decline in March.

Sales of clothing, footwear and accessories dropped 24% in April after a 16.7% decline in March.

($1 = 7.8167 Hong Kong dollars)

(Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Philippa Fletcher and Sriraj Kalluvila)