Shoppers camp overnight for Hong Kong expo’s HK$1 dishwasher, as leader Carrie Lam drops in for noodles
Chief executive, fresh from visit to Beijing, is guest at annual Brands and Products Expo in Victoria Park, where traders are offering huge discounts
Organisers and exhibitors at this year’s annual Brands and Products Expo were predicting double-digit growth for the 24-day sales extravaganza as it opened to eager shoppers with huge discounts on Saturday.
Hardcore shoppers camped outside Victoria Park for over 20 hours on Friday and into Saturday for a chance to nab electronics and other discounted items for as little as HK$1 at the opening of the event.
The buoyant predictions for the fair come amid a bull run in Hong Kong’s retail sector, which has seen eight consecutive months of growth. October, the latest month for which official figures are available, saw the industry expand by 3.9 per cent on the same period last year on the back of strong tourist numbers.
Even Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who had just landed in the city on Saturday morning after a duty visit to Beijing, got in on the expo action. She was an official guest and spent about HK$5,550 on packaged food items including shrimp roe noodles, dried sausages and bacon.
Citing a favourable economic environment, some major exhibitors said they expected to see growth in their business of at least 10 per cent compared to last year’s expo.
Chinese Manufacturers’ Association president Eddy Li Sau-hung said he foresaw a 10 to 15 per cent increase in sales revenue for the expo as a whole, which would see it notch up HK$1 billion. Last year’s event registered HK$900 million in sales. Two million people turned up last year, Li added, and the count was expected to be 10 to 20 per cent higher this time around.
Lam said: “This year Hong Kong in general has better economic conditions. Whether it’s imports, exports or domestic consumption, the numbers are pretty good. I hope exhibitors will do more business and bring more happiness.”
She said she would offer her noodles to Catholic nuns and would serve the dried foods to guests at Government House, her official residence.
Some 400 exhibitors were running more than 880 stalls at the 52nd annual expo in Causeway Bay, organised by the Chinese Manufacturers’ Association. Goods on offer ranged from home electronics, health supplements and Chinese medicines to household goods and skin care products, with most offered at steep discounts.
The expo has been running ever since 1938 with the aim of promoting Hong Kong brands and products. It also hosts a beauty pageant.
Three things you can buy with HK$1 – if you’re early enough – at the Brands and Products Expo in Hong Kong
Chinese electrical appliances giant Midea rolled out 10 dishwashers, which usually sell for HK$2,799 each, for only HK$1. Marketing and product development manager Jayco Cheng said it was part of their promotional tactics. He predicted a 20 to 30 per cent increase in sales for the expo this year.
“The weather is quite cold so we expect the heaters will sell quite well,” Cheng said. “We think consumers are generally more willing to spend this year.”
William Chang, in his early 60s, had camped outside the venue from noon on Friday to get his hands on the HK$1 dishwasher. He was among the first in line.
“I brought some cardboard for me to sleep on overnight and this windbreaker, as it got quite cold,” Chang said. “It’s been very tough.
“I will probably resell the dishwasher and see how much people will pay. I won’t really use it.”
A middle-aged woman surnamed Tse ran straight to a booth run by Chinese medicine giant Wai Yuen Tong upon stepping into the venue. She was first in line for a box of herbal health supplements called Ganoderma lucidum, also sold at HK$1.
“I always wanted to buy this but it’s quite pricey,” Tse said. “I’m so happy to get this for HK$1.”
She added that she had budgeted up to HK$3,000 to buy home appliances and other goods in preparation for the Lunar New Year, and had brought with her a small suitcase to carry them.
Tickets for the expo, which closes on January 8, are priced at HK$10. For the first time at the event, electronic payments with service providers Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay are being accepted at some booths. Alipay is a unit of Ant Financial Services Group, an affiliate of Alibaba Group, which owns the South China Morning Post.
Long-time exhibitors at the event include Hong Kong food brands such as Lee Kum Kee, Hung Fook Tong and Amoy as well as an array of small local manufacturers and retailers.
Hong Kong chief executives – and governors in the colonial days – have long visited the expo as a token of support for local industries and to mingle with the general public.