Hong Kong protests create space for new businesses to expand, as traditional retailers, restaurants retreat after seven months of falling sales

By Lam Ka-sing kasing.lam@scmp.com / https://www.scmp.com/property/hong-kong-china/article/3042316/hong-kong-protests-create-space-new-businesses-expand?utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=contentexchange&utm_source=EdgeProp | December 17, 2019 2:40 PM SGT
New retail entrants are taking advantage of the downturn in Hong Kong's economy to expand rapidly, as a rising number of big chains give up leases, forcing landlords to lower rents.
Defying a depressed retail market battered by seven months of anti-government protests and an economy in recession, 24-hour gyms, fast-food chains with made-to-order burgers and even retailers selling red packets have grabbed empty shops on the cheap recently.
A decline in traditional retailers and restaurants amid the protests has definitely given new and smaller businesses opportunities to expand, said Trudy Chan, co-founder of Go24 Fitness, which will open its fourth 24-hour gym in Wong Tai Sin next month. "Many landlords would like to seek entertainment or lifestyle [tenants] to drive footfall," she said.
The 24-hour gym company, which now has about 2,000 users, occupies a total of about 29,000 sq ft in a shopping centre in Tsuen Wan, a former garage in Sai Wan and North Point, districts where protesters have clashed with police and pro-Beijing groups during the protests.
Its Wong Tai Sin gym will cover about 7,000 sq ft. The company's 10,000 sq ft venue in North Point used to be a Chinese restaurant for about eight years. "It is sometimes very funny. We see grandpas who want to come for tea and then we have to tell them, this is not for tea. The Chinese restaurant had been there for quite a long time," Chan said.
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