Hong Kong: Retail sales nearly flatline in December, weighed on by mainland slowdown and trade worries
Retail sales by volume rose 0.2% in annual terms in December, decelerating from the meek 1.2% growth recorded in November. The near-flatlining was largely due to a sharper decline in sales of food, alcoholic drinks and tobacco (excluding supermarket sales), and a contraction in sales of consumer durable goods and luxury goods. On the other hand, the contraction in supermarket sales was less sharp than in November, and sales of fuel rebounded in the month.
On a seasonally-adjusted, three-month-moving-average basis, retail sales volume in the October–December period decreased 1.1% from the preceding three-month period ending in September. The decline was however less steep than the 1.8% fall recorded in the three-month period ending in November.
Lastly, annual average variation in retail sales volume for the year 2018 came in at 7.9%, down from 8.3% in the 12 months up to November.
Going forward, a government spokesperson noted that “retail sales performance would continue to be affected by the cautious consumption sentiment amid moderating global economic growth and the uncertainty stemming from the US-Mainland tensions in the near term, though the full employment situation and sustained expansion in visitor arrivals should provide some support”.