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Tuesday, 31 December 2019, 17:00 HKT/SGT

Source: HKTDC
Online sales shines over festive season
Caution over prospects of global economic downturn in 2020

HONG KONG, Dec 31, 2019 - (ACN Newswire) - Led by online purchases, global festive sales over the last two months have been positive in general, according to a worldwide study of year-end sales released today by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC).

The report consolidated feedback and observations from the HKTDC's global offices regarding the retail sector to analyse the year-end sales performance in Hong Kong's major export destinations, including both traditional and emerging markets. It serves as a bellwether of consumer demand in specific markets and regional economies that can help local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) develop a more focused sales strategy for the coming year.

HKTDC Economist Doris Fung said that retail sales over the festive period show that online shopping is an increasingly popular phenomenon globally. "E-commerce performed particularly well over the past two months, starting from Single's Day and Thanksgiving and running through Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas," she said. "Year-end sales have been positive in most places, especially in the United States, Mainland China and some emerging markets, while sales in France and Japan have been relatively weak due to ongoing protests and the consumption tax hike respectively."

Ms Fung added that consumer electronics such as smartphones, Internet of Things (IoT) home appliances (such as audio and lighting systems and robot vacuums) and "affordable luxury" jewellery were among the most popular items across different markets. In the mainland, consumers spent most on apparel, while demand for skincare products, cosmetics and other health and personal care items were also growing fast. Meanwhile, game consoles (such as the Nintendo Switch) and related software remained popular in Japan.

Ms Fung advised Hong Kong traders to exercise caution over the prospects of a global economic downturn in 2020. "Economic growth is expected to slow down in major economies including the US, Europe, the mainland and India. Hong Kong exporters are likely to be affected by softening global demand, so market and product diversification may help to stabilise their businesses."

Highlights of the report

Mainland China
- The 11th edition of Singles' Day (11 November) remained the biggest shopping fiesta of the year. Alibaba reported record sales of Rmb268.4 billiion (US$38.4 billion), representing 26% growth over the previous year.
- Mainland consumers are shopping more with credit products such as Ant Financial's Huabei, and JD Finance's Baitiao.

United States
- Weekend sales after Thinksgiving (28 November) remained one of the biggest shopping events in the US, providing a big boost to retail sales.
- Online sales on Cyber Monday (2 December) set a new record of US$9.4 billion, growing 19.7% over last year, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracks transactions from 80 of the biggest 100 US online retailers.
- Mastercard SpendingPulse reported that Christmas retail sales increased by 3.4% year-on-year, a slower pace than the 5.1% growth recorded in 2018.
- As US consumers become more inclined to shop online, online sales at Christmas grew 18% to hit a record high, accounting for 14.6% of overall sales. Amazon also reported a record number of online shoppers over the holiday season.

Western Europe
- The UK is the biggest Black Friday (29 November) spender in Europe. According to Barclaycard, which processes one-third of total spending in the UK, sales surged 16.5% during this year's Black Friday promotions.
- Brexit and an end-of-year general election did not weaken the willingness of UK consumers to spend. A survey conducted by the Centre for Retail Research and VoucherCodes predicted that UK shoppers would spend a record GBP1.4 billion (US$1.8 billion) online on Christmas Day.
- In Germany, Christmas sales of consumer electronics were expected to reach EUR8.9 billion (US$9.8 billion), with overall year-end sales increasing 3% over last year.
- In France, online purchases exceeded EUR20 billion (US$22.4 billion) over Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas, according to estimates by trade association Fevad. However, disturbances such as a nationwide strike and ongoing protests had an impact on consumers' willingness to spend.

- With the consumption tax rate rising from 8% to 10% from 1 October 2019, sales in department stores plunged 17.5% year-on-year in October and 6% in November, according to the Japan Department Stores Association. In addition, sales of winter clothing were affected by the relatively warm weather in Japan this winter.

Emerging markets
- Overall holiday sales were strong. The Association of Internet Trade Companies said Russian shoppers spent US$350 million online on Black Friday, a 30% jump from the previous year.
- In Hungary, an improving economy and healthy labour market encouraged shoppers to spend more. Retail sales were expected to reach US$4.1 billion over the holiday season. By the same token, Czechs had spent US$2.3 billion online in the run-up to Christmas.
- Retail sales also grew steadily in Latin America. In Brazil, retail sales climbed 10.5% to US$0.9 billion on Black Friday, while Chrismas sales were expected to surge 9.5% over last year.
- In Mexico, retail sales during Buen Fin, a four-day shopping event similar to Black Friday, were expected to reach US$6.1 billion, growing 5% over 2018.

- HKTDC Research website: http://research.hktdc.com/
- Year-end Sales Gain Momentum Amid Ongoing Economic Uncertainties: https://bit.ly/2Qc4xk9

Beatrice Lam, Tel: +852 2584 4049, Email: beatrice.hy.lam@hktdc.org

Topic: Research / Industry Report
Source: HKTDC

Sectors: Retail & eCommerce
From the Asia Corporate News Network

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