Following 21 consecutive months of retail sales growth, Hong Kong retail sales declined 3.2% in February compared to last year, according to the latest Mastercard SpendingPulse Hong Kong Report.
Mastercard SpendingPulse report measures consumer spending across all payment types, including cash. The monthly report also includes an overall retail sales and price index to show spending growth is truly being driven by increased shopping or by inflation or increased promotions.
The report found the drop in February retail sales was seen across the board, with clothing, grocery, health and beauty, jewellery, and furniture all experiencing a year-on-year decrease.
Sasha Krstic, executive vice president, services â€“ Asia Pacific, Mastercard, pointed out the decline is attributed to various factors, such as diminishing consumer confidence and warmer-than-usual winter. In addition, the Chinese New Year celebrations landed in early February this year, causing the majority of New Year purchases to be made in January.
However, the low unemployment rate (2.8%), the lowest level since February 1998, may help to improve the retail sales performance. Some growth was seen towards the monthâ€™s latter half, due to lower comparative statistics from last yearâ€™s New Year period.