‘Dozens’ of Hong Kong retailers may close as protests impact sales

“Dozens” of smaller Hong Kong retailers may be forced to close their doors as ongoing protests – now into their 15th week – impact trade.

The Hong Kong Retail Management Association has repeatedly been warning of critical impact on the retail sector as store owners in areas frequently hosting protests have had to shutter their shops for safety reasons.

Now, the South China Morning Post has reported that “several dozen small retailers are likely to shut shop as soon as the end of this month” because overseas shoppers have been deterred from entering Hong Kong by news of protest activity.  

Alexa Chow Yee-ping, MD of AMAC Human Resources, told the SCMP her clients were considering laying off staff to keep afloat.

“It is just too hard to survive,” she told the paper, saying she feared “thousands of layoffs”.

Annie Yau Tse, chairman of the HKRMA said last month that damage to retail business has directly impacted the frontline staff’s take-home income. “Some member companies reported that their staff’s income, which is paid on a commission basis, has also declined accordingly because of the tremendous sales drop caused by significant business disruptions,” she said in a message posted on the association’s website.

“Furthermore, retail-related industries, such as the import and export trade, wholesale, transportation and storage sectors, will also suffer from the subdued retail market.”

Tse was commenting after the release of June’s retail sales data for Hong Kong, which showed a 6.7 decline year on year. Since then July figures have shown an 11.4-per-cent drop. There is widespread expectation that sales in August will be down even further, given 851,000 fewer passengers used Hong Kong International Airport and the number of mainlanders entering through land-based border crossings continues to decline while the protests roll on.

The HKRMA has called on landlords to extend relief to embattled retailers given the circumstances. 

“As the recent incidents have made an immediate and profound impact on the retail industry, the Association has issued a letter to call for all landlords to collaborate at these critical moments by offering rental and management fee relief measures,” Tse wrote. 

“Facing such unprecedented crisis, retailers are in critical need of the support from our stakeholders to sail through the challenges without going out of business or cutting headcount.”


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