Hong Kong retailers fret over China slowdown, not protests

1A employee removes marks on a highway signal left by pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

Protests by the pro-democracy Occupy Central motion in Hong Kong, which authorities dropped at an finish on Dec. 15, 79 days after they started, took a chew out high-end retailers’ gross sales. However general gross sales within the Particular Administrative Area rose in October, and are thought to have executed so in November as properly.

     The numbers don’t bear out the dire warnings of the Hong Kong authorities and pro-Beijing executives that the motion for better democratic rights would crush shopkeepers. The variety of free-spending vacationers from the mainland additionally rose above year-earlier ranges, underscoring how little the protests have damage enterprise. Certainly, retailers seem extra anxious a few slowdown within the mainland, a politically pushed crackdown on extravagance and a weaker yen that will entice vacationers to spend their cash in Japan as a substitute.

The takeover of some Hong Kong districts by college students and different activists demanding absolutely democratic elections for the chief govt, as the town’s high chief is thought, started on Sept. 28, simply three days earlier than the beginning on the mainland of the Golden Week holidays. The protesters occupied key streets within the Admiralty district, close to the primary authorities constructing; Causeway Bay; Mong Kok and different busy purchasing areas. The crowds led many luxurious retailers to shut their doorways briefly.

Winners and nonlosers

“We anticipated a powerful Golden Week gross sales, however recorded destructive gross sales progress because of the affect of Occupy Central,” mentioned Andre Hoffmann, managing director of Hong Kong-listed cosmetics maker L’Occitane Worldwide, at a latest press convention. Esprit Holdings, an attire firm, mentioned, “Our flagship retailer in Mong Kok suffered a double-digit drop in gross sales.”

     Eating places additionally took successful. “When college students have been holding out, I did not really feel like consuming and ingesting beside them,” mentioned one resident in his 50s. Transportation disruptions additionally saved individuals from eating out. The Hong Kong Federation of Eating places and Associated Trades estimates its members misplaced about Three billion Hong Kong {dollars} ($386 million).

     But the affect of the demonstrations appears to have been short-lived because the protests have been principally peaceable and contained by the police to a couple areas. Terry Poon Fuk-chuen, chief monetary officer of Way of life Worldwide Holdings, operator of Sogo division retailer in Causeway Bay mentioned, “We acquired a comparatively heavy blow within the first two weeks, however residents progressively bought accustomed to the scenario.” 

     Fears of a decline in tourism have been additionally unfounded. The Beijing authorities tried to gradual journey to Hong Kong, imposing restrictions on group excursions of the town through the Golden Week. Nonetheless, Hong Kong had 18.3% extra mainland guests in October than a 12 months earlier, with 4.02 million individuals making the journey. The overall variety of sightseers within the month reached 5.21 million, up 12.6%.  November can also be forecast to have seen greater than 10% progress on 12 months. “As a result of Beijing restricted media experiences on the Hong Kong demonstrations, many mainland vacationers had no information of what was taking place in Hong Kong,” mentioned one tourism official.

     In response to the Hong Kong authorities, the area’s retail gross sales in October rose 1.4% from a 12 months earlier to HK$38.Three billion, after having elevated 3.5% in August for the primary acquire in seven months. In September, gross sales climbed 4.8%.  “The affect of Occupy Central will not be as giant as anticipated,” mentioned Caroline Mak Sui-king, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Retail Administration Affiliation, in a phone interview, including, “Gross sales in November have already proven enhancements and [look] to take care of optimistic progress.”


For now, Hong Kong retailers are extra anxious about an financial slowdown in China that might trigger mainland vacationers to tighten their purse strings than disruption to their enterprise by the pro-democracy motion.

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