Dow Jones Newswires: Hong Kong’s August retail sales plunge in worst monthly decline on record

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Months of protests have hit nearly every aspect of the Hong Kong economy, weighing on tourism, consumer spending, stocks and economic growth. The latest indicator to take a hit: retail sales.

Value of retail sales fell 23% in August from a year ago, the worst monthly decline on record, according to the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department. Luxury items have been the biggest victims, according to the data released Wednesday. Sales of items such as jewelry, watches, clocks and other valuable gifts dropped 47% from a year ago, a record decline.

Department-store sales dropped 30% from a year ago. The protests have repeatedly disrupted traffic and prompted many stores to shut down. The Sogo department store in Causeway Bay, one of the biggest in Hong Kong, has been at the center of several protests in recent months, prompting it to close its doors at times.

Analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said the steep drop in inbound tourists in August, mostly due to mainland Chinese visitors electing against visiting Hong Kong, was the main catalyst for the drop. “We do not expect a turnaround in retail sales before year end and are concerned about a higher unemployment rate,” it said.