Malls and pubs are the winners
Amy Nip, Adrian Wan
They are neither Dutch nor Spanish. But shopping malls and pubs have declared victory during the World Cup finals this year as more people stepped outdoors to watch the matches.
When matches were on, apm mall in Kwun Tong would see about 1,500 people seated on the ground floor and hundreds more packed next to railings watching the big screen.
About 10,000 people visited the mall every night during the tournament, Maureen Fung Sau-yim, the general manager of Sun Hung Kai Properties' leasing department, said. A number of malls run by the developer showed all 64 matches.
She said about 25 per cent more people had visited the developer's 11 city malls during this year's finals than during the 2006 World Cup - helping to generate a turnover of HK$400 million - up 20 per cent on 2006, she said.
On a normal day, most shoppers at a mall are normally female, but during matches about 70 per cent of the audience was made up of men.
People also spent more - HK$1,800 on average, up from HK$800 to HK$1,200 before the World Cup started.
In West Kowloon, the Olympian City mall had a record 9.6 million visitors during the finals - a 25 per cent rise on the last World Cup - and turnover reached HK$230 million - a 18 per cent increase, said Irene So Kit-lin, general manager of Sino Group's retail marketing and promotions.
The Royal Garden Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui said turnover rose 15 per cent and turnout was up by 25 per cent, with each guest spending about HK$200.
Pubs also saw more fans when matches started earlier. Wan Chai pub Trafalgar was full for almost all of the 7.30pm and 10pm matches, director Sam Tam said. Business was 10 per cent better during this year's World Cup than four years ago.
'In 2006, the late matches kicked off around 4am. This time it's much better,' he said. There were 200 people at the pub when it was full, he said.
Unlike four years ago, TVB and ATV could broadcast only four matches on their digital channels and not analogue ones. Given the smaller digital TV audience, fewer people could watch the games for free, which could have helped business, Tam said.
However, not everyone was left happy. Peter Mak Ka-wing, the manager of Orchid Restaurant in Causeway Bay, said it had been the worst World Cup he had seen because of a lack of stars. 'No Beckham. No Zidane. What is there to draw Hongkongers?' he said.
Matches such as United States v Ghana game were appealing, with only about 20 people watching the less popular games at 2.30am, he said.