Several dozen Hong Kong retailers likely to fold as protests hit sales, leaving thousands unemployed

Hong Kong's retailers are likely to miss out on the five-day golden week holiday sales bonanza in early October as mainland tourists stay away

A local employment agency says up to 30 per cent of the city's retailers are now asking full-time employees to go on unpaid leave

Several dozen small retailers are likely to shut shop as soon as the end of this month due to plunging sales that could lead to thousands of lay-offs as protests frighten away tourists, according to a Hong Kong-based staffing agency.

"It is just too hard to survive," said Alexa Chow Yee-ping, Managing Director of AMAC Human Resources Consultants, adding that retail chains were trying their best to keep permanent staff despite the gloomy scene.

About 20 per cent to 30 per cent of retailers were now starting to send full-time employees on unpaid leave to cut costs after having let go of part-time workers.

And although the upcoming five-day "golden week" national day holiday starting on October 1 is generally a busy sales period, retailers could miss out as the city is unlikely to see a repeat of the 1.2 million mainland tourists who visited Hong Kong last year.

Retail sales in July fell 13 per cent from a year earlier, according to the latest figures from the Hong Kong government.

In view of the retail sector's dire situation, the Hong Kong Retail Management Association last month called on landlords to cut rent by half for six months to help businesses tide over the crisis.

But AMAC's Chow said that landlords might not be amenable to such a request.

Chow Tai Fook, the world's largest listed jeweller by market value, said it was "actively looking for cut on rental renewals".

Extracted from                  South China Morning Post                   2019年9月17日