HONG KONG, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- Hong Kong reported the largest annual decline on record in retail sales volume last year as the COVID-19 epidemic dealt a major blow to consumption-related activities, official data showed Tuesday.
The retail sales volume dropped 25.5 percent in 2020 from a year ago, according to a statement of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government. Meanwhile, retail sales value declined 24.3 percent to 326.5 billion Hong Kong dollars (about 42 billion U.S. dollars).
Sales of jewelry, watches and clocks were the hardest hit, with the sales value down 54 percent, followed by the 50-percent drop for medicines and cosmetics and the 39.7-percent decrease in footwear, allied products and other clothing accessories.
In December, the retail sales value went down 13.2 percent year on year, widening from the 4.1-percent drop in November.
A government spokesman said that retail sales saw a sharper decline in December amid the fourth wave of the epidemic and the resultant social distancing measures.
Looking ahead, he expects the business environment will remain challenging in the near term amid frozen inbound tourism and the ongoing local epidemic, and stressed that keeping the epidemic under control is pivotal to the revival of the retail business in particular and the overall economy at large.