Christmas comes even earlier for shoppers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 November, 2010, 12:00am

If you think Christmas appears to be starting earlier every year, you are not alone.

Some shopping malls in Tsim Sha Tsui will light up their Christmas decorations today - two weeks earlier than last year and six weeks before December 25 - in a bid to cash in on what they believe will be a bumper festive season as the economy continues to recover.

The buoyant mood is also reflected in the amount of money shops and malls are prepared to spend on decorations and promotions.

The MTR Corporation is investing HK$25 million on luring Christmas shoppers to its upscale shopping arcade Elements - the highest-ever budget for a December promotion and up by 25 per cent from HK$20 million a year ago.

The company budgeted another HK$25 million for festive promotions at its 11 other malls, up 15 per cent compared with last winter, and expects visitor arrivals to grow by one-tenth.

'This is because the economy is doing well and therefore we want to lure more people to spend,' the company's chief retail marketing manager, Cindy Woo Lai-man, said.

Part of the budget would be used to promote new tenants, which comprise about 40 per cent of the tenants at Telford Plaza in Kowloon Bay, and to lure consumers to start shopping for Christmas this month.

'Faced with keen competition from other malls, we want to create a pre-Christmas shopping period by dishing out gift rewards and special offers this month,' Woo said.

Rival Sun Hung Kai Properties is also going into record-breaking territory. The developer forecasts spending of HK$17 million on seasonal promotions at its apm mall, up about 10 per cent year-on-year. This excludes the cost of organising up to 80 tours which will bring 4,000 mainlanders from Guangzhou to the mall from early next month.

'Competition between shopping malls in Hong Kong is stiff,' said Maureen Fung Sau-yim, general manager of Sun Hung Kai's leasing department.

'Apart from wooing local young people, we want to expand the Christmas shopping habit to mainlanders,' Fung said. 'For example in Shanghai, people usually shop on December 24 and 25 only. Those from southern China have been influenced by the shopping tradition in Hong Kong and start their Christmas spree earlier.'

She forecast per capita spending of mainland visitors would range from HK$3,800 to HK$4,500 per person. Total sales in the mall next month are expected to surge at least 15 per cent to over HK$500 million.

Fung expected some Hongkongers might stay and spend in the city for the holiday as the appreciation of foreign currencies meant it was more expensive to travel overseas this year.

The developer will also increase its Christmas investment by 20 per cent at another 11 malls to a record high of HK$19 million.

Other malls, including Times Square and Langham Place, are also upbeat about shoppers in the coming month.

Vivian Leung Wai-mun, general manager of Eagle Property Management, said the company was confident that its Langham Place would fetch a double-digit growth in sales during Christmas, thanks to the robust economy in Hong Kong and on the mainland.