Catholics urged to shun chain stores
The Catholic church has launched a campaign in support of small businesses by encouraging people to give up relying on chain stores for Lent and support their local shopkeeper.
The Hong Kong Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs yesterday appealed to Catholics to shop in small stores in their neighbourhood instead of chain supermarkets and department stores.
Programme officer Yu Siu-po of the commission said the church was alarmed by the growing trend of small shops being edged out by a few major players who can afford higher rent and offer more discounts on products.
'During the campaign which will last for 40 days until April 1, we invite our fellow Catholics to look for the small shops in their neighbourhood and shop there. For instance, they are encouraged to buy soft drinks from grocery stores, instead of the few major supermarkets or chain convenience stores,' Yu said.
Yu admitted that in some districts it was hard to find small stores as many had been forced out by the major chains, from supermarkets and convenience stores, fast food restaurants, fashion outlets, to pharmacies.
'Besides our support to the small businesses, we also appeal to the whole community to change the spending culture.'
According to Yu, the campaign is based on the biblical lesson about Jesus being led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days, where he was tempted by the devil. Many Christians choose to give up a 'vice' such as smoking or chocolate for Lent, in the run-up to Easter.
'Hong Kong is branded as a shopping paradise with a lot of temptation for people to spend money on things they do not actually need,' he said.
'During the 40 days of the campaign, we appeal to people to save up money and donate to the needy instead.'
The church also urges supporters of the campaign to share their thoughts on the church's Facebook page.
Yu said it was the first time the church had run the campaign and it might be repeated next year.
The Sunday Morning Post reported yesterday that small shops in Admiralty were ousted after high-end store Lane Crawford and British luxury brand Burberry moved in.
At Pacific Place, Burberry will move into the space now occupied by Lane Crawford - taking up 21,000 sq ft over two floors - later this year.
Lane Crawford will move into neighbouring Queensway Plaza this month, sending shockwaves through the government-owned shopping centre. The store is forcing out small businesses and taking up most one-storey shop spaces.
The small stores are scrambling to find new places in nearby malls to reopen. But the move has drastically increased rents in the area.
The problem of chain store dominance has alarmed the Consumer Council for years. Wet markets, for instance, face competition from superstores.