Lunar New Year fairs in a slump

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 December, 2008, 12:00am

More than 75 per cent of stalls on offer for Lunar New Year fairs failed to find takers at an auction yesterday, as the recession blighted prospects for the annual fun-fests.

Of 306 stalls in 14 locations which were left unlet after previous auctions - 153 dry-goods stalls, 152 wet-goods stalls and a fast-food stall - 75 were taken. They comprised 54 dry stalls and 21 wet stalls.

The auction, which attracted 210 people, raised HK$458,590 for the government.

There were no takers for the 52 wet stalls on offer for fairs at the Yuen Wo playground in Sha Tin, Cheung Sha Wan playground in Sham Shui Po, and Tin Hau Temple in Fung Shui Square, Tai Po.

The response was poor for the stalls at Fa Hui Park in Sham Shui Po and Morse Park in Wong Tai Sin, where only 13.5 per cent and 8 per cent of the stalls were let.

With the exception of Victoria Park, Yuen Wo playground and Kwai Chung playground, all the stalls were let at the opening price.

The highest bid for a dry stall in Victoria Park was HK$15,000, about 70 per cent above the opening price of HK$8,760. The average bid was HK$9,159, or 4.5 per cent above the opening price.

The government had already frozen the opening prices for Lunar New Year fair stalls, for the first time since the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003.

The poor response at the various auctions conducted might yet be another indicator of a shrinking economy.

The remaining stalls will be let out on a 'first come, first select' basis at the reserve price at various district offices of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.

The 2009 Lunar New Year fairs will be held from January 20 to January 26 in 14 locations in the city, with one fair on Hong Kong Island, four in Kowloon and nine in the New Territories.