Hong Kong protests: Supermarket sales increase while other retail sectors feel the pinch

By Guan Yu Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Overall retail sales saw an enlarged decline in June 2019, as local consumer sentiment turned more cautious and growth in visitor arrivals moderated ©Getty Images
Overall retail sales saw an enlarged decline in June 2019, as local consumer sentiment turned more cautious and growth in visitor arrivals moderated ©Getty Images

Related tags Hong kong Supermarket food retail

Supermarket and food store sales in Hong Kong appear to have been unaffected by the high-profile protests that have repeatedly brought the territory to a standstill.

According to the latest data from the HKSAR Census & Statistics Department, total retail sales registered an enlarged decline in June, but categories relating to daily necessities were more stable.

The Hong Kong protests started on June 9, triggered by the now-abandoned extradition bill.

The figures show that total retail sales in June dropped 6.7% to HK$35.2bn, from HK$37.7bn in the corresponding period last year.

Commodity do better

However, food retail appeared to fare better in this period, with supermarkets registering an increase of 1.6% from June 2018 to reach HK$4.4bn in June 2019.

According to Professor Terence Chong Tai-leung at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, supermarket sales were not negatively affected because, “Consumers may not want to go out during protests, so they will buy food home to cook, and to stock up.

Also, supermarkets are generally located at neighbourhood areas, not shopping malls or districts where the protests tend to be held​.”

Outside of supermarket, fresh and frozen (fish, livestock, and poultry) category increased 4.8% to reach HK$800m in June 2019.

Fresh fruits and vegetables also increased 7.2% to reach HK$270m in June 2019.

The food categories, which saw a decrease in sales, were confectionery, bread, pastry, pastry and alcoholic drinks.

Apart from supermarkets and food retailers, most sectors were negatively affected. Clothing, motor vehicles, electrical goods, department stores, jewellery all saw a decrease in retail sales.

Weakened outlook

The Hong Kong Retail Management Association (HKRMA) told media in July that most retail companies across different categories reported that their sales value had dropped by single to double digit year-on-year during June and the first week of July.

July and August are the traditional summer-holiday sales season and typically mark peak business seasons for the retail industry.

The HKRMA forecasts a single to double digit drop in sales for July and August 2019.

The Association had also initially forecast a single-digit growth for total retail sales, but due to the US-China trade conflicts and ongoing protests, it expects a double-digit drop for the whole of 2019.

The government has since rolled out a HK$19.1bn (US$2.4bn) package of relief measures for businesses and individuals.

The statistics for July 2019 will be released by early September 2019.

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