Hong Kong retailers are being battered by high rents and declining sales as a direct result of the Asian economic crisis, the Hong Kong Retail Management Association said.
The non-profit-making body representing more than 500 retailers said rents had nearly tripled between 1989 and 1995. It said the sector's 10 per cent vacancy rate would exceed 12 per cent next year.
'Rents must come down by a significant amount to allow retailers to survive,' the association said.
Apart from the regional financial crisis, Hong Kong's volatile stock and property markets and the slump in tourism 'are severely affecting retail sales', with retailers in Tsim Sha Tsui hit hardest, it said.
'Despite a reasonable first half, full-year 1997 will not be much better,' it said.
The association said the Government's annual retail sales figures failed to give a full picture on the sector's performance.
The continual growth of retail sales since 1995 to September, rising from 1.5 per cent in volume terms to 3 per cent, was led mainly by robust car sales and durable consumer goods sales, the association said.
The figures did not reflect the plight of department stores, shoes and apparel retailers, it said.
Geography of Asia
Tsim Sha Tsui
Hong Kong Retail Management Association