The once-thriving retail market in Hong Kong might be losing some of its original sheen. The Census and Statistics Department here reports that the total retail sale value saw a year-on-year dip to 9.8% in April 2014 to reach USD 5 billion. This drop was much steeper than the 4.4% predicted by analysts earlier. Retail sales volume saw a 9.5% drop during the same period last year. This month’s decline is the third in a row following the city recording a retail sector retrenchment. The curbs on expenditure was reported after sales figures saw a 1.3% drop year-on-year in March 2014, and earlier in February the drop was recorded at 1.3%. This slump is the worst ever since May 2013 when the widespread fear resulting from severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) had crippled Hong Kong.
However, in this ordeal, it is the luxury stores that have suffered the highest. For instance, reports show that sales of Italian luxury handbags, Swiss watches, and French jewelry saw a 39.9% drop in April as compared to the same period last year. Furthermore, the sales of hot gadgets such as tablets, cameras, and mobile phones tumbled 8.3%. Many department stores as well have reported a 1.3% dip in April 2014. It is interesting to note however, that the Hong Kong Tourism Board reported a 14.7% increase in the number of tourists YoY in April 2014. This marks an increase, but the pace remains slow. Previously, estimates from Goldman Sachs Group Inc had anticipated that visitors from the mainland would contribute about HK$217 billion to the overall retail sales in the country in 2013.