CONSUMER ECONOMICS
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Consumers

Burgers and beers lead Hong Kong restaurant industry growth

With people opting for fast food over fine dining, analyst warns of downturn over coming months before rebound in fourth quarter

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2016, 10:31pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2016, 11:07pm

Restaurant industry analysts remain sceptical about the sector’s growth prospects despite promising year-on-year figures.

Census and Statistics Department figures show restaurant receipts in Hong Kong increased 3.1 per cent year on year, at the end of the second quarter 2016.

Fast food and bars did the best while Chinese restaurants saw fewer diners and lower spending, according to the figures.

Fast food receipts increased 6.4 per cent year on year, bar sales increased 4.3 per cent, other drinking venues’ sales increased 3.9 per cent and Chinese restaurants increased 1.7 per cent.

But the upwards trend for the local restaurant industry could be short lived, according to Simon Wong Ka Wo from the Federation of Restaurant and Related trades.

There will be a 2 to 3 per cent “slight decrease” in the restaurant sector in terms of its overall performance for the whole year, Wong forecast. He warned that some Hong Kong restaurants might have to “suffer a little bit” over coming months, but the industry will bounce back in the fourth quarter.

“The increase seems a little bit surprising to me as the performance of the economy for the past six months does not seem so promising,” Wong said.

“The major reason is people tend to spend more on some middle to low-end restaurants like McDonald’s instead of high-end ones due to the stagnant economy, contributing to the increase in overall value of total receipts.”

The optimistic figures come against a backdrop of slowing retail trade, which registered an 8.9 per cent decrease year on year.

Professor Terence Chong Tai-Leung from the Chinese University of Hong Kong said rising incomes could help the city rebound from the retail slump.

“As you can see from the low unemployment rate and the increased average income figure recently, Hong Kong people still have large purchasing power,” he reasoned.