No expense spared as Hong Kong’s shopping malls unveil Christmas decorations

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 December, 2013, 1:03pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 December, 2013, 1:03pm

From towering Christmas trees to tiny fairy lights, Hong Kong’s malls never spare any expense at Christmas.

K11 Art Mall in Tsim Sha Tsui unveiled its decorations a week earlier than last year after last year’s five-metre, shocking pink inflatable flying pig proved a big hit, drawing in 20 per cent more shoppers than the year before.

Rebecca Woo Yuk-kwan, head of marketing at K11, said the mall spent about HK$4 million on decorations, but concept and originality were more important than the amount of money spent.

“People start to tire of seeing the same decorations every year,” she said. “They are more concerned about the underlying meaning of each festival.”

Beijing-based design duo Fake Studio created this year’s centrepiece – a 6.5 metre steel polar bear made of UV lighting, with a red glass heart, which ties in to this year’s theme of environment protection.

“During Christmas, the animal everybody thinks about is the polar bear,” Woo said. “But when you look at the very cute polar bear, do you think about the polar bear’s life in the Arctic?”

This year, the mall’s traffic is expected to increase by 10 per cent and sales by 20 per cent.

Other malls are also keen to put their best on show for the festive season.

“Christmas trees and traditional festive ornaments are the very basic elements, but on top of that we will add something unique or special.” said Shirley Li Siu-fun, assistant general manager for leasing at Sun Hung Kai Real Estate Agency (SHK), whose portfolio includes 12 malls. “We would like to achieve a wow effect, to make something that will give shoppers a surprise and happiness,” she said.

APM in Kwun Tong commissioned local stage designer Benfi Sum and Japanese designer Shiro Nakano to design a 6,000 sq ft Christmas town featuring a five-metre Santa bear, while Tai Po Mega Mall celebrates with Japanese animator Osamu Tezuka’s Princess Knight and a giant Christmas reindeer forms the main focus at The Sun Arcade in Tsim Sha Tsui.

This year’s Christmas decorations and promotions at all 12 malls will cost HK$42 million, 10 to 20 per cent more than last year. Nearly half this budget (HK$20 million) will be spent by APM and HK$9.5 million by Tai Po Mega Mall.

Li said her company’s malls were expecting 70 million visitors during the Christmas period from mid-November to January 1, with sales of HK$1.35 billion anticipated – up 10 per cent to 20 per cent on last year.

Other malls showing their artistic flair are Times Square in Causeway Bay, which invited Argentinian illustrator Javier Gonzalez Burgos to design a whimsical Christmas exhibition of moving fantastical animals. Pacific Place in Admiralty is populated by a robot Santa and his team of robot elves, while Elements invited German woodcraft brand Mueller to create a rotating, ceiling-height, four-tier Christmas pyramid.

“For this year, we also spent a lot of resources and budget on attracting more mainlanders to our shopping malls,” Li said.

SHK is organising 100 free coach trips from Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Dongguan to APM and partnering with concert organisers for music and mall packages. Li said mainland shoppers spent an average of HK$5,000 to HK$8,000 at APM and liked “practical” cash coupons, while locals preferred festive packaging and limited-edition gifts.

“Most of our mainland customers are young people or young families, so they are increasingly exposed to international culture.” she said. “They know Hong Kong is very famous for festival decorations at Christmas.”