Fewer bid for Lunar New Year stalls

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2007, 12:00am

Fewer people are interested in running dry goods stalls at next year's Victoria Park Lunar New Year fair.

Only 800 people showed up yesterday to bid for the stalls, compared with 3,000 last year. Although this was more than attended the auction for fast food and wet goods stalls on Monday, the number was down on the past two years, when the auctions were held in mid-November.

Total revenue from Monday and yesterday was HK$7,538,600, down from last year's HK$10,110,050. Some 263 out of 300 dry goods stalls were let, bringing in HK$4,625,000, down on last year's HK$6,732,100. The highest price bid for a dry goods stall was HK$49,600, just shy of last year's HK$50,000. The average price was HK$17,586, against HK$22,440 last year.

A spokeswoman from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said only that the auctions for the Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Lunar New Year fairs had been brought forward, while the ones for the New Territories would be held at about the same time as last year.

Kowloon's auctions will be held from Monday to Thursday.

Meanwhile, lawmaker Fred Li Wah-ming said Lunar New Year fairs had changed over the years and urged the department to survey visitors to find out what they wanted.

'Fewer people are buying flowers now and a lot of people just go to experience the crowd,' he said, adding visitors now spent more on food and drinks rather than other goods.

'I think [the department] should do some research on visitors' age and why they're going.' He was at a loss to explain the drop in interest at this week's auctions.

Winning bidders at yesterday's auction said the drop in number of participants made the bidding less exciting than in previous years.

Leung Yui-hung - a maker and vendor of traditional Chinese snacks - took the most expensive stall.

He forked out HK$50,000 for the same stall last year, but this year he secured it for HK$39,100, almost 22 per cent less.

'I estimated that it would cost me HK$70,000 to HK$80,000 this year; I didn't expect it would be so much cheaper this year,' he said.

The atmosphere at the auction was not as good this year because bids had only risen in increments of HK$100, he said.

Even though Raymond Tsang Chi-hing was forced to increase his bid for a corner stall almost 100 times before securing it, he thought this year's auction was less competitive.

'There are fewer people this year and the prices were more expensive last year,' he said.

He did not know why there were fewer people but doubted the earlier date had had any effect because vendors would have been aware.