Hong Kong retail landlords are banking on bigger and better Christmas displays to get their tenants' cash tills ringing this holiday season.
To lure more people into their malls - especially cash-rich mainland visitors - owners of shopping centres will be vying with each other to offer the most attractive decorations, as well as special deals and promotions.
Sun Hung Kai Properties, owner of the APM mall in Kwun Tong, said it would spend HK$18 million, up 20 per cent from last year, to decorate the complex. A 10-metre Christmas tree made from crystals will take centre-stage in a 6,000 sq ft exhibition featuring creative designs and providing the setting for parades by Santa Claus and his Christmas fairies.
As a draw card for the fashion-conscious, the developer has secured the rights to display the work of Swedish illustrator Liselotte Watkins - whose distinctive pieces have been incorporated into fabrics used by fashion label Miu Miu.
Langham Place in Mong Kok has opted for a 'winter carnival' themed Christmas, and Harbour City shopping centre in Tsim Sha Tsui will make a pitch to fans of the Toy Story movies.
The encouraging signs of growth in retail spending has prompted shopping mall owners to increase their Christmas budgets.
Canis Lee Lai-yi, general manager of leasing at Harbour City Estates, a unit of Wharf (Holdings), said the Harbour City shopping centre achieved business turnover of more than HK$18.9 billion in the first three quarters, up 36 per cent versus the same period last year and representing 6.4 per cent of the total retail market in Hong Kong.
International property consultant Colliers International said the growth in sales was driven by promising domestic demand and an increasing number of tourists visiting the city.
The number of inbound visitors continues to grow. Colliers noted that, so far this year, their number had risen 18 per cent from the same period a year earlier. At the end of the third quarter this year, the value of retail sales was growing at an annualised 29 per cent a year, it said.
The growth of the retail sector was fundamentally policy driven, said Colliers, and inbound visitors from the mainland were likely to continue to support this industry.
But Colliers cautioned that any change in the average spending per visitor would directly affect the sustainability of the consumption patterns of inbound visitors.
'Whenever there is a slowdown in visitor spending, prospective growth in the Hong Kong retail market will very much depend on whether local consumption can take up the slack,' it said.