Shopping malls report strong retail sales for Lunar New Year holiday
Nine shopping centres take in HK$180m over four days, but small stores report less trade
Shopping malls reported an influx of customers, bringing strong sales, over the Lunar New Year but smaller shops said trade had dipped as Hongkongers tightened their belts at the start of the Year of the Snake.
Nine shopping centres under Sun Hung Kai Properties said they drew 2.75 million customers between Sunday and Wednesday - racking up sales of HK$180 million, a 24 per cent increase on last year's figure.
Fiona Chung Sau-lin, general manager at Sun Hung Kai Properties' leasing department, said WTC More in Causeway Bay, Landmark North in Sheung Shui and East Point City in Tseung Kwan O organised 58 shopping tours for 2,610 mainland visitors during the Lunar New Year.
The wave of big spenders added HK$13.8 million in extra revenue for the three malls.
Harbour City in Tsim Sha Tsui refused to reveal its exact sales figures, only to say the increase was satisfactory.
Swire Properties - which owns Pacific Place - said the Lunar New Year season had been a remarkable one overall for the retail industry.
Shoppers this time around appeared to have more items in mind that they wanted to buy, and were willing to splurge on gifts and entertainment.
The president of the Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, Simon Wong Ka-wo, said revenue growth for the catering sector had slowed from last year.
"Last year from Christmas to the Lunar New Year, the sector saw a 15 per cent rise," Wong said. But during the same period this year, the increase was lower - at just 8 per cent, he said.
Wong said financial turbulence in Europe and the United States had affected the city's economy and weakened the public's purchasing power.
The Yiu Fung grocery store in Causeway Bay said its business had dropped 30 per cent, as customers spent less on traditional snacks, such as egusi seeds and pistachios.
A female shop assistant, who declined to be named, said traditional snacks were not well-received among young adults, and they were no longer seen as must-have items in boxes of candy and other treats.
The rosy figures presented by shopping malls seem to contradict the findings of a survey by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong.
It found that more than 30 per cent of respondents to its poll said they would spend less on new clothes and gifts during the Lunar New Year.
The party said the reluctance to spend was because pay rises had lagged inflation and that Hongkongers were worried about the city's future economic development.
The party surveyed 853 adults over six days, between January 25 and January 30.