New government data showed sales plunged 23 percent in August from the same period a year ago, extending a contraction that started seven months ago and after July’s drop of 11.5 percent.
The latest reading is even worse than that recorded in September 1998 during the Asian financial crisis.
For the first eight months of this year taken together, sales fell 6 percent year on year. The China-US trade war had been affecting local market for months and the escalation of protests over extradition bill amendment from June added to the headwinds.
Jewellery shops were worst hit, with sales plunging more than 47 percent. That’s followed by clothing and footwear retailers, which saw sales down by more than 32 percent.
Sales at department stores, with some of them forced to close early due to protests, fell 30 percent.
Only supermarkets managed to see business go up, by less than 2 percent.
The government said the latest reading reflected severe disruption to inbound tourism and spending caused by the protests. It expects sales to remain in the doldrums in the near term, as the worsened economic outlook and ongoing violence continue to weigh on consumer sentiment and inbound tourism.