Hong Kong’s depressed retail environment and a challenging global macroeconomic landscape is taking its toll on the city’s leading fashion, retail and beauty-related stocks.
As reported earlier this month, retail sales in Hong Kong sank 10.5 percent in the first six months of the year, registering their steepest fall since 1999. Mainland Chinese tourists are just not flooding the city like they once did to snap up everything from baby formula to high-end watches as they grapple with an economic slowdown at home and an increasingly vast selection of new travel destinations.
Over the past year, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index has held up fairly well — it has lost 1.1 percent over the past year based on Tuesday’s close. But retail and fashion-related stocks have significantly underperformed the rest of the market over the same time period.
Global Brands, Li & Fung and Chow Tai Fook are three of the worst performers of the group. Shares in apparel and accessories player Global Brands have slid 51.9 percent over the past year to close at 0.76 Hong Kong dollars on Tuesday. Li & Fung, the sourcing giant that spun off Global Brands in 2014, has seen its share price slide 28.7 percent to 4.07 Hong Kong dollars. Chow Tai Fook, a jeweler with a significant footprint in Hong Kong, has registered a share price drop of 22.9 percent over the past year to 5.68 Hong Kong dollars.
While their slides might not be as dramatic, many other retail-related companies are facing downward pressure on their stock prices. Esprit, a company that has been undergoing restructuring efforts for a few years now, is down 5.9 percent on the year at 6.55 Hong Kong dollars as of Tuesday. Cosmetics retailer Sa Sa is down 3.5 percent at 3.27 Hong Kong dollars. Giordano, a high street chain, is down 4.3 percent at 4.22 Hong Kong dollars. Sourcing and manufacturing player Luen Thai is down 7.6 percent at 1.21 Hong Kong dollars. Multibrand retailer I.T has bucked the industry trend — its shares are currently up 18.2 percent at 2.66 Hong Kong dollars.
Still, there could be light at the end of the tunnel for retailers with business heavily exposed to the Hong Kong market. Mainland Chinese arrivals in Hong Kong slid 3.8 percent in June, according to the Hong Kong Tourism Board — but that’s an improvement from recent months. They slumped 8.3 percent in May, fell 4.0 percent in April and slid 6.9 percent in March. Most notably, they tumbled 26 percent in February — a key travel month coinciding with the Chinese New Year holiday.
Also, the Hong Kong Retail Management Association has said it expects sales trends to improve in the second half of the year thanks to more favorable comps.