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Wharf sees best years ahead for Hong Kong’s retail industry as sales rebound


Best years ahead for Hong Kong retail industry as patience needed for post-Covid recovery, Wharf group says

Retail sales have rebounded by about 20 per cent on average this year through August, after border reopening, driven by government incentivesWharf group, a major retail landlord, says patience is needed for consumption habits to normaliseRetailingPeggy SitoPublished: 8:30am, 3 Oct, 2023Why you can trust SCMP

Hong Kong’s retailing industry will need more time to recover its high-water mark from a decade ago after the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in years of isolation and disrupted consumer spending habits, according to the Wharf group, a major retail and commercial landlord in the city.

Sales values have risen this year by almost a fifth on average per month, aided by border reopening, government data showed. The recovery came despite weaknesses in the local stock and property markets and interest-rate concerns. Higher rents for prime high-street shops and shopping centres suggest confidence is growing.

“I’m sanguine about the immediate future,” chairman Stephen Ng Tin-hoi said in an interview. “Hong Kong was isolated for three and a half years from mid-2019, so I am not surprised it will take a little while for [consumption] habits to return to normal.”

Retail sales rose 13.7 per cent to HK$32.4 billion (US$4.1 billion) in August from a year earlier, slowing from an annualised 16.7 per cent gain and a 19.5 per cent increase in June, according to official data. Sales peaked in January 2014 at HK$54.5 billion and generated as much as HK$48.1 billion in January 2019 before the Covid-19 outbreak.

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