July 1 march

Shopping discounts scheme falls flat, stores say

A pro-government group had hoped discount scheme would lure shoppers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 July, 2013, 4:46am

Shops that yesterday offered discounts in a promotion organised by government supporters did not see any extra business.

A lack of awareness about the offers, together with the July 1 protest crowds, kept shoppers away. Some stores taking part decided against opening.

Only one of 40 shoppers interviewed at a Causeway Bay branch of the Bonjour cosmetics chain, which took part in the scheme, had heard of the discounts.

Heichinrou Restaurant in Times Square said business was down about a third because patrons were avoiding the area due to the rally. The restaurant was offering abalone for HK$280 a can between 2pm and 5pm; it usually sells for HK$468.

"We offered the special price for the first 200 cans," a restaurant manager said. "But we sold only about 50 cans."

Organisers of activities celebrating the 16th handover anniversary had hoped to turn it into a shopping day with special deals at 1,000 shops and restaurants. The plan attracted criticism that organisers were trying to draw attention away from the annual pro-democracy march.

Told that some of the shops involved had stayed closed, Hong Kong Celebrations Association chairman Cheng Yiu-tong said the businesses had not been forced to join the promotion.

"The shops are doing it voluntarily. We didn't have any deal with them," Cheng said. "We can't guess the reason why they closed."

A property agency that agreed to join the promotion, but insisted it wasn't pro-government, said it did no business despite waiving its commission for flat-buyers. Asia Property senior sales manager Yvonne Choi Chi-yu said the sales gimmick was done mainly to support the trade and to celebrate the anniversary.

"Our offer does not amount to support for the government," Choi said. "We are very upset by the government measures to intervene in the property market, which have severely hit many related businesses - from property agents to home decoration companies. Since the new stamp duties were imposed last year, our business has dropped by about one half."

The agency will join a mass rally on July 7 to protest against the administration of Leung Chun-ying.

No more than three customers were seen at any one time inside a Hoi Tin Tong tortoise jelly shop in Causeway Bay during its usual peak hour at 4pm. It was touting a "buy two get one free" offer.

Shops in Wan Chai along the protest route also saw business drop despite offering discounts.

Among them was the Yue Hwa Chinese herbal medicine shop on Hennessy Road, which was offering 15 per cent off items.

"The discount doesn't make a difference. It's so loud outside. Who would come in? I'm not sure whether the manager will decide to offer a discount again next year," a shop worker said.

The offer did attract a few people, including William Lam Kwok-tong, 66, who took advantage of it before joining the march.

Peter Chan Kai-ming, 34, said he took advantage of the discount shopping because he supported most of Leung Chung-ying's policy moves so far.