Retailers stretching from Causeway Bay to Admiralty were adversely affected by protest action on Hong Kong Island yesterday.
The Sogo shopping centre in the heart of Causeway Bay was one of the first to close as crowds gathered outside to continue to push demands for democracy, an enquiry into police actions during previous protests, and other issues.
Many stores were later shuttered inside the Times Square shopping centre as a large group gathered in the atrium to sing protest songs. Banners were unfurled off balconies, but there were no reports of damage inside the mall.
On Saturday, several hundred people gathered at Amoy Plaza across the harbour in Kowloon, to show support for the police and for a person who was beaten by pro-democracy protestors on Wednesday night for singing the Chinese national anthem. Opposition groups gathered outside the mall chanting and yelling abuse at those inside and police were called to keep the groups apart. One woman was shown on live television footage abusing police for not being allowed to go inside and shop.
Meanwhile, “mall singing” appears to have become a new trend in recent days. In one such event, at least 1000 people gathered inside the APM mall at Kwun Tong on Thursday night, lining the balconies in scenes Tweeted widely.
The protests, sparked by the now withdrawn extradition bill, are now into their 15th week and a radical element has become more violent in recent weeks. Yesterday afternoon, home-made fire bombs were thrown at police and fire crews in Admiralty and street fights broke out between rival groups in the pro-Beijing stronghold of North Point and Fortress Hill.
Hong Kong retail sales were down 11.4 per cent in July and an even higher decline is anticipated in August due to declining inbound tourist numbers.
Hong Kong International Airport says passenger traffic was down by 851,000 people during during August, equivalent to a 12.1 per cent drop, the largest monthly fall since 18.9 per cent in 2009. Flights from the mainland, Taiwan and Southeast Asia were the most affected.
The number of visitors to Hong Kong in August – including those crossing land borders – was down 40 per cent, according to tourism authority sources.
August saw HKIA effectively shut down for two days after protestors staged sit-ins and blocked travellers from accessing the departures area. Airlines cancelled about 1000 flights.