In today’s top retail news, retail sales fell 25 percent in Hong Kong in the first 11 months of 2020, while Afterpay reported a 30 percent rise in the average basket size for its customers in the U.S. over the holidays. Plus, a large rise in eCommerce returns powered by pandemic-related rule changes is hurting merchants but helping logistics companies.
Retail sales in Hong Kong fell 25 percent in the first 11 months of last year as the pandemic repelled high-spending tourists and local consumers spent less. Census and Statistics Department data shows that retail sales dropped 25.3 percent between January and November compared to the same timeframe the prior year.
Afterpay said on Monday (Jan. 4) that the average basket size for its clients in the United States increased by 30 percent in a comparison of the 2020 and 2019 holiday shopping seasons. The firm also said it saw a 145 percent year-over-year jump in referrals to international merchants from its shop directory.
A jump in online shopping returns fueled by pandemic-related rule changes is negatively impacting merchants but benefiting logistics firms. Merchants that sell a product to someone who ends up returning it experience the cost of executing the sale and the need to process a returned item. About half of returned items reportedly can’t be sold again.
With the holidays complete outside of the returns, it’s time for the embattled mall industry to face the existential crisis it avoided due to what appears to be a decent season when it comes for foot traffic despite the pandemic. Local reports from Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; and Houston noted large crowds at shopping centers during the final week of the season to the point where local health officials were worried about shoppers’ safety.