Hong Kong retailers to feel Brexit hit the most

Already dwindling number of mainland tourists will affect the retail sales further.
This image is for representative purpose only. Image Courtesy: Wikipedia
This image is for representative purpose only. Image Courtesy: Wikipedia

The retail sector in Hong Kong is finding it difficult to keep their boat afloat amidst the decline in mainland tourists since a year ago. Now, the Britain’s vote to leave the EU is likely to make matters from bad to worse for the Hong Kong’s retail sector, says reports.

A recently released Hong Kong government report showed retail sales slipping to 12.5 per cent Y-O-Y in the first quarter to HK$115.2 billion, from HK$131.6 billion in the same period last year. The total number of retail establishments also dropped sharply to 64,498, fewer by 1,400 from the first quarter last year. And there have been 10,000 retail sector job losses in the past year, with the number of employees also down to 320,400 by the end of first quarter.

Apart from the decreasing number of tourists, outbound travel is expected to grow on the back of a stronger US dollar and weaker Chinese yuan, resulting in less spending in Hong Kong, say industry experts.

Industry analysts have predicted for a much worst conditions for the upcoming future, after Brexit triggered global uncertainty. The situation is expected to push higher the value of U.S. dollar. Also, the experts have forecasted for an outright recession in Hong Kong this year.

Hong Kong being financial hub and its currency peg, their economy is expected to be hit the hardest in Asia, say experts. The Hong Kong dollar, meanwhile, which is pegged to the greenback, is expected to appreciate significantly after the Brexit, say reports.

In its latest note, the Morgan Stanley analysts say demand, too, for commercial property is likely to be impacted by weaker Hong Kong economic growth and the sluggish labour market, says reports.

The experts further predict that the only the only bright spots in the overall retail market gloom, however, were recommendations from Bank of America Merrill Lynch and China International Capital Corp to invest in Hong Kong jewellery makers, which they said should benefit from the rising price of gold, amid global risk aversion fuelled by the Brexit.

As per the reports, both maintained ‘buy’ ratings recently for Luk Fook Holdings, a Hong Kong gold-jewellery retailer. “Luk Fook would be the biggest beneficiary from the recent upward trend in the gold price due to its smallest hedging ratio of 15 per cent to 20 per cent,” BoA Merrill Lynch analysts said as per reports.

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