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Friday, September 30, 2016, 18:51

More doom and gloom: HK retail sales plunge again

By Oswald Chan

More doom and gloom: HK retail sales plunge again
Pedestrians cross the street in Central, Hong Kong. (Provided to China Daily)

HONG KONG - Hong Kong’s consumer market is showing no signs of recovery as retail sales again plunged in August – the 18th consecutive month since February 2015.

The value of total retail sales fell 10.5 percent in August to reach HK$33.9 billion ($4.37 billion), compared with the same month in 2015. In July, the revised estimate of total retail sales slumped 7.7 percent.

Retail sales began its decline in February 2015, plummeting 20.6 percent in February this year. The decline has since been less severe, but it began to widen again in August.

"The near-term outlook for retail sales will still hinge on the performance of inbound tourism and the extent to which local consumer sentiment will be affected by various external headwinds,” a government spokesman said.

"The government will continue to monitor closely the retail sales performance and its repercussions on the wider economy and job market.”

Adding to the bleak outlook, consumer confidence is still cooling, according to a survey by global payment service provider Mastercard. In the first half of 2016, Hong Kong slipped 12.4 points to 32.1 in the index -- the lowest among the 13 surveyed countries and regions in the Asia-Pacific.

"Global economic issues have led to a drop in confidence among local consumers across various economic aspects for the months ahead,” said Hiang Choong, division president at Mastercard for Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

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