Hard times take edge off holiday
By SHIRLEY KWOK and AMY AU
AS millions of people flocked to sweep their ancestors' graves for the Chung Yeung Festival yesterday, many others were forced by the territory's worsening economic situation to work.
So Siu-chung, 60, spent the day at his Wan Chai street stall waiting for customers to bring scissors for sharpening.
Mr So, whose business has been in the district for about 20 years, said he had fewer customers this year.
'Most of my customers are neighbours and tailors who need to have their scissors re-sharpened from time to time,' Mr So said.
'A pair of good scissors for a tailor costs several hundred dollars, but I charge only $20 or $30 to re-sharpen them. And a pair of scissors needs re-sharpening every two to three months.
'Last year I earned an average of $10,000 a month. But this year I have fewer customers and earn only several thousand or hundred a month. There are a few days in a month that I get no business at all.' Ho Jik-to of the Kam Luk Tailor in O'Brien Road said many people bought ready-made suits in department stores instead of going to tailors.
Mr Ho, 61, yesterday waited in his shop as usual for business.
'I have to pay about $20,000 a month for rent no matter whether I open or close my shop. Holidays are meaningless for poor people,' he said.
In August, the Financial Services Branch downgraded the territory's 1995 Gross Domestic Product growth from 5.5 to 5 per cent.
Some economists said year-on-year growth could be about 3.5 per cent after stripping out the substantial inventory growth and accumulation of capital goods.