Hong Kong’s total retail sales increased by 18.4% year-on-year in May to HK$34.5bn. However, trade representatives have expressed doubts about the strength of this growth, raising concerns about the sector’s future prospects.
Sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts played a significant role in driving the overall growth, posting an impressive 51.8% jump.
Government credits inbound tourism for sales boost
A government spokesperson attributed the rise in sales partly to the resurgence of inbound tourism. They expressed optimism that sales would continue to improve in the coming months.
Chairwoman of the Hong Kong Retail Management Association Annie Yau Tse acknowledged the growth in sales but tempered her enthusiasm. She described May as not being a particularly strong month, attributing the boost to the Golden Week holiday period.
Bond Law, the association’s executive director, highlighted a less positive aspect. He noted that compared to April 2023, total sales in May were actually around HK$200m lower.
The association surveyed 4,000 stores, revealing that approximately 40% believed that traveller flow and business in June were only moderate, showing a slight improvement compared to previous months.
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Limited impact of the consumption voucher scheme
Looking ahead, Tse expressed scepticism about the impact of the consumption voucher scheme on the retail industry.
She emphasised that the economic situation on the mainland would play a crucial role in determining the industry’s pace of recovery, as it directly affects the purchasing power of mainland tourists.