Window On The Faltering Red Ponzi----Hong Kong Retail Sales Fall For 14th Straight Month

By Reuters

* April sales of jewellery, watches down 16.6 pct y/y

* April tourists fall 2.1 pct y/y, mainland visitors down 4 pct

* MasterCard's April retail sales in Hong Kong fall 5.7 pct

HONG KONG, May 31 Hong Kong's retail sales fell for the 14th successive month in April, as a drop in tourists and weak local consumption deepened the pain for retailers in the city.

Retail sales in April slid 7.5 percent from a year earlier to HK$35.2 billion ($4.5 billion) in value terms, less than a 9.8 percent slump in March. In volume terms, April sales dropped 7.6 percent, government data showed on Tuesday.

"Many types of retail outlet still recorded notable falls in sales, reflecting the continued drag from the slowdown in inbound tourism as well as the more cautious local consumer sentiment amid subpar economic conditions," the government said in a statement.

Hong Kong is struggling with mounting economic challenges from the prospect of rising U.S. interest rates, which has stepped up capital outflows, and from China's economic slowdown.

Mainland tourists are avoiding the city amid political tensions with China and growing calls from radical activists for greater autonomy from Beijing.

"The near-term outlook for retail sales will continue to depend on the performance of inbound tourism," the government added.

Hong Kong tourist arrivals in April fell 2.1 percent from a year earlier to 4.69 million, after sliding 4.3 percent in March. Mainland visitors, which accounted for 73.8 percent of the total, fell 4 percent to 3.46 million in April. (bit.ly/1WupAMF)

April sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts fell 16.6 percent in value terms, a 20th consecutive month of decline. Department store sales slid 6.8 percent on year, while wearing apparel fell 5.9 percent.

MasterCard's MasterCard Advisors said its retail sales in Hong Kong in April contracted 5.7 percent from a year earlier amid declining Chinese tourism and subdued local spending.

A string of retailers from jewellery firms to cosmetics retailers have warned of weaker sales amid a decline in mainland tourists and weak consumer sentiment.

Chow Tai Fook Jewellery and cosmetic chain Sa Sa International had warned that their annual profit for the year ended in March could be half what it reported last year.

General merchandise stores operator AEON Stores said they would swing into the red for the six months ending in June, while apparel chain Bauhaus expected its net profit for the year ended in March to fall 70 percent.

Source: Update 1-Hong Kong April Retail Sales Fall for 14th Straight Month - Reuters

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