Inflation lifts the cost of a splurge this Christmas
People in a festive mood this Christmas will have to open their wallets a little wider.
The Hong Kong dollar's weakness against some foreign currencies, and higher food prices, have pushed up the cost of dining and food hampers by about a tenth, say operators of restaurants and shops.
At the Island Shangri-La, buffets on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day would cost HK$40 and HK$60 more than last year respectively, assistant director of food and beverage Nicholas Liang said.
'The increase, which is around six per cent, is partly due to inflation,' he said. The economic recovery after the financial crisis was also a factor.
Hampers, with price tags of HK$1,188 to HK$4,588, will cost an extra HK$100 - but for the first time come with a raffle ticket, with top prize a Mercedes-Benz A160 car.
The hotel would also introduce pricier options in buffets, such as goose liver and Boston lobsters, Liang said. Still, prices have risen by less than costs.
Despite the increases, the three restaurants in the hotel offering buffets have seen strong demand. 'Bookings are really strong ... inquiries have been coming in since late October,' Liang said.
Maurice Kong, director of food and beverage overseeing seven restaurants at the Convention and Exhibition Centre, also noted rising costs.
'Since we are serving buffets of international cuisine, many of the food ingredients such as turkey and ham will be imported. Those costs have risen by 10 to 15 per cent due to the high currency exchange rate. At the same time, the costs of some major basic ingredients from the mainland, such as salt and cooking oil, have also jumped by over 20 per cent,' he said.
However, buffet prices had risen by less than 10 per cent.
Daniel Chong Wai-chung, managing director of Yata, reported a rise in the cost of Japanese fruit, which fills the Sha Tin department store's hampers. 'The cost of apples jumped 20 per cent. Melons jumped 10 per cent,' he said.
However, not all exporters have dared to raise prices due to the sluggish Japanese economy. The increase in the retail price would be one tenth at most, Chong said.
Hampers with European delicacies have not been hit as hard. Bonnie Chow Wing-yan, head of marketing at CitySuper, said there was no change in the price range for hampers -from HK$500 to HK$30,000.
The supermarket offers 32 hampers, 28 featuring food products and four more with wine.
'The biggest increase is in the Japanese yen. But our food mainly comes from Europe, such as Italy and France,' she said.
Others are venturing into the luxury hamper market. The distributor of Precious Moment collectables, Best Gate, has introduced a HK$10,000 pack for the first time. It includes a crystal plate decorated with 100 pieces of Swarovski crystal, two limited edition Precious Moments figurines, Japanese wine and selections of fruit.
Even the chocolates have to be handled with care - crystals can be found on their packaging and they should be removed before eating.
'We want preservable collectables in the hamper, not just something which will be gone once they are swallowed,' Wendy Leung, of Best Gate, said.