Feb retail sales fall 44%

March 31, 2020

The value of total retail sales in February, provisionally estimated at $22.7 billion, fell 44% compared with the same month in 2019, the Census & Statistics Department announced today.


After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the volume of total retail sales decreased 46.7% year-on-year, the steepest for a single month on record.


Noting 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, the Government said it is more appropriate to analyse retail sales figures for January and February taken together in making a year-on-year comparison.


Comparing the combined total sales for January and February, the value of sales of food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco decreased by 9.3%.


This was followed by sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts (-58.6% in value); other consumer goods, not elsewhere classified (-21.9%); electrical goods and other consumer durable goods, not elsewhere classified (-25.1%); medicines and cosmetics (-42.7%); commodities in department stores (-41.4%); wearing apparel (-49.9%); motor vehicles and parts (-24.2%); footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories (-43.1%); furniture and fixtures (-19.6%); Chinese drugs and herbs (-23.7%); books, newspapers, stationery and gifts (-35.0%); and optical shops (-28.6%).


The value of sales of commodities in supermarkets increased 11.1% for the period, while that of fuels rose 6.5%.


The Government said the retail sales volume widened sharply in February 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.


It added 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 economy and employment market.

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