H.K. Retail Chains See 50% Sales Drop, Survey Shows

Sales at major Hong Kong retailer chains have fallen as much as 50 percent during the bulk of the Chinese National Day holidays after pro-democracy protests disrupted the shopping season, according to a survey.

Sales dropped at least 15 percent during the first five days of the holidays known as Golden Week, versus a year earlier, the Hong Kong Retail Management Association said in a statement yesterday, citing a survey on its members. Retailers selling watches and jewelry were among the most affected, according to the group.

Sales at small- to medium-sized companies plunged as much as 80 percent, according to the association. Those operating in the Mong Kok, Causeway Bay or Tsim Sha Tsui shopping areas occupied by protesters were hurt the most, it said.

The figures are among the earliest indicators of the financial toll caused by the protests that have roiled retailers since late September. Thousands of people demanding a free election for the next Hong Kong leader have taken to the streets, blocking roads and forcing some stores to close, including those of Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd., the world’s largest jewelry chain.

The protests could cost the city’s tourism industry about HK$2.5 billion ($322 million) or 0.4 percent of fourth-quarter gross domestic product, if they last for a month, according to BNP Paribas SA.

Separately, the number of mainland Chinese visitors to Hong Kong rose 2.2 percent between Oct. 1 and Oct. 5, down from a 16 percent growth in the same period a year earlier, according to data from the Immigration Department. Today is the last day of the week-long National Day holiday in China.

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