‘Alarming’ drop in Hong Kong dining reservations

Fewer people in Hong Kong are planning to dine out on Lunar New Year’s eve, with an “alarming” drop in reservations.
And Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants & Related Trades chairman Simon Wong Ka-wo says the average bill per table is expected to be about HK$4800 for the evening – down from HK$5300 last year, reports The Standard.
“We annually see an 8 to 10 per cent increase in reservations, but this year we are seeing a drop of around 5 per cent,” he says, attributing it to a drop in consumption, with many people opting for cheaper meals.
Restaurant owners have adopted a conservative approach to ordering supplies after noticing that overall consumption has been affected by the mainland’s economic slowdown, says Ka-wo.
Association for Hong Kong Catering Services Management chairman Yeung Wai-sing says he fears some restaurants may have to close as sales are expected to drop further following the holiday.
“This is likely to happen in April after company spring dinners and the so-called off-season begins.”
Business is also being affected by a 60 per cent drop in mainland tour groups for the Lunar New Year, according to Hong Kong Inbound Tour Operators Association chairman Ricky Tse Kam-ting, who describes it as the coldest year he has experienced in the industry.
“We had around 400 to 500 groups in the past, but only about 100 groups this year.”
Mainland arrivals numbered 45.62 million last year, a 2.9 per cent drop on 2014, according to the Hong Kong Immigration Department. Many mainlanders now head for Japan and South Korea because of the exchange rate, while the younger ones prefer Europe, says Tse.
“Social media plays a big role with the younger generation. They see pictures and news about other countries and it is understandable they want to go beyond Hong Kong.”
Government data shows that total retail sales in Hong Kong in December dropped 6.1 per cent, and the value of sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts fell 17 per cent.
Prince Jewellery & Watch chief Jimmy Tang Kui-ming is expecting this month’s sales to deplete by 20 per cent from last year.

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