July 1 march

Decision to close for day hits Central's high-end stores in the pocket

A number of luxury shops have decided to stay shut and police have erected barriers in anticipation of marchers' arrival and students' planned sit-in tonight

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 July, 2014, 3:11pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 July, 2014, 8:40am

At least six luxury shops on Chater Road stayed closed yesterday ahead of an overnight sit-in by student groups.

Almost half of the shops on the ground floor of The Landmark mall also remained shut.

Student activist groups the Federation of Students and Scholarism described last night's sit-in - which began after the march and was due to end at 8.30am today - as a rehearsal for Occupy Central.

They also said they would camp outside Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's office in Admiralty to wait for him to come to work this morning.

A police source previously told the South China Morning Post the force would have 4,000 officers on duty - the largest deployment since the Korean farmers' protest at the World Trade Organisation's ministerial conference in 2005. At noon yesterday, officers set up water-filled barricades on Chater Road.

They said if the road was blocked, officers would remove protesters physically should a warning be ignored.

The six shops that shut yesterday included Cartier, Piaget and Chanel branches. While Chanel put up a sign apologising for the inconvenience, Van Cleef & Arpels urged customers to go to other branches instead.

A tourist from Shenzhen said: "I find it a bit inconvenient because most shops are closed and I'm only here for one day."

But Anna Wu Jia, from Jiangsu, said: "It's okay because there are other areas where we can shop, such as Harbour City."

The business sector has long been voicing concerns about Occupy Central.

Five of the city's international business chambers took out an advertisement last month to express their opposition to the movement. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority also invited 55 banks to a drill to simulate the situation they might face if the city's business heart came to a standstill.

The authority stressed it did not wish to see bank services being disrupted.

Across the road from the Landmark yesterday, HSBC had metal gates down to prevent people from entering its headquarters.

Hong Kong Retail Management Association chairwoman Caroline Mak Siu-king said she treasured freedom as Hong Kong's important core value.

But she hoped protesters could also see things from the perspective of business owners.

"If you miss one day, that's one-30th of your [monthly] income gone. If Occupy Central lasts for a week, that's a quarter of the revenue," she said.

"I hope they can take into consideration the interests of Hongkongers, Hong Kong as a financial hub, workers and tourists."