Despite higher turnout, exhibitors at the Hong Kong Brands and Products Expo are looking back at last year's event during the economic downturn with nostalgia because bargain hunters seem to be spending less this time around. The expo attracted a record 2.18 million punters by the end of its 23rd day yesterday, said a spokesman for Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong, which organises the fair. Some 2.16 million people attended last year's event, which ran for 23 days and was also in Victoria Park. Shoppers yesterday jostled for goods in anticipation of exhibitors slashing prices over the final days to clear stocks. Shopping carts, large bags and boxes strapped to trolleys thronged the park as bargain hunters toted their purchases and sought more deals. The fair was so crowded that the swarms of eager shoppers, some eating ice cream or curry fish balls, often came to a standstill and waited for minutes for the congestion to ease. However, brand manager Yung Hau-ming of Sun Shun Fuk Foods Co which sells Sau Tao noodles, said sales were down. 'With still one day to go, I think business is going to be a little worse than last year.' Despite the pessimism, Yung did not expect the company to offer more discounts because prices were already low. She blamed the dampened sales on strong interest in bargains during last year's economic slump and the fact that last year's fair was nearer Lunar New Year. Elsie Lung Yin-foon, sales manager of food service for Lee Kum Kee sauce company, said fewer people visited her store this year and business was down. The firm was offering a bottle of its seafood XO sauce and a bottle of oyster sauce for HK$30. But John Mak, brand manager for Imperial Bird's Nest, said business was up, as he expected. 'There are more big-spenders than last year,' he said, adding he did not expect to have to offer discounts today. Sitting beside two full carts, a Mrs Chan said she was at the fair yesterday for the third time this season. She said she spent about HK$2,000 on health food - half of what she spent last year. 'Things were cheaper last year. I bought a lot. Many of the things I got last year I still haven't opened so I'm buying less this time.' The expo started on December 12 and will close at 10pm tonight.