Sales of jewelry and other luxury items in Hong Kong slid in October, marking the second-highest monthly decline on record as protests in the municipality dented consumer sentiment.
Revenue from jewelry, watches, clocks and other valuable gifts fell 43% year on year to HKD 3.92 billion ($500.2 million) during the month, the municipality’s Census and Statistics Department reported Monday. . Sales across all retail categories slipped 24% to HKD 30.12 billion ($3.85 billion).
Demonstrations against an extradition bill have been ongoing since June, interfering with retail sales and hitting local consumer sentiment and tourism. Although the bill has been scrapped, violence in the municipality has continued.
“[Total] retail sales continued to plunge in October, and showed the largest year-on-year decline for a single month on record, as the local social incidents…depressed consumption sentiment and severely disrupted tourism and consumption-related activities,” a government spokesperson noted.
August showed the highest decline for jewelry since the Census and Statistics Department began publishing results in 2005. While January was the only month this year to note an increase, leading to a nine-month consecutive decline, sales during August, September and October each fell more than 40%.
The situation has led to a sharp drop in travelers from China and abroad, as well as weakened local purchasing. Tourism in Hong Kong was down 44% to 3.3 million visitors in October, the Hong Kong Tourism Board reported. Of those, 2.5 million came from mainland China, 46% fewer than the same period last year.
The government expects weakness in the market to continue as conditions persist, stressing that the market would likely not improve until the unrest subsided.
“Ending the violence in the local social incidents and restoring social order are crucial to the creation of an environment for the retail business to recover,” the spokesperson added, noting the government would continue to monitor the situation’s repercussions on both the municipality’s labor market and the overall economy.
In the first 10 months of the year, retail sales of jewelry, watches, clocks and other valuable gifts decreased 19% to HKD 57.67 billion ($7.37 billion). Sales in all retail categories for the January-to-October period fell 9% to HKD 365.12 billion ($46.6 billion).