Hong Kong's mall owners push back at tenants' pleas to cut rents even as retail sales shrink amid unrelenting protests

By Pearl Liu and Holly Chik pearl.liu@scmp.com / https://www.scmp.com/business/companies/article/3032385/hong-kongs-mall-owners-push-back-tenants-plea-cut-rent-even?utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=contentexchange&utm_source=EdgeProp | October 14, 2019 9:25 AM SGT
Hong Kong's leading mall owners are looking at various options to help struggling tenants amid the unrelenting protests, but most of them are reluctant to commit to rent cuts even after the city recorded its worst monthly sales in August.
Although Sun Hung Kai Properties, Wharf (Holdings), Hysan Development, Swire Properties and CK Asset, which together own 40 shopping centres in the city, have come up with proposals, including increasing promotional activities to postponing rental payments, retailers and market observers say it falls far short of what is needed to keep them in business.
So far, only Hysan and Swire have confirmed rent cuts.
"Temporary rental adjustments have been offered as one possible solution," said Hysan Development, Causeway Bay's biggest landlord, one of the worst affected districts in the protests.
Tear gas is fired in Tuen Mun on September 21 during the anti-government protests. Photo: Sam Tsang alt=Tear gas is fired in Tuen Mun on September 21 during the anti-government protests. Photo: Sam Tsang
Hysan owns nine shopping centres, including Hysan Place and Lee Garden One, Two, Three, Five and Six in the popular shopping district.
Hysan's move on Wednesday came after Swire said late last month that it would cut rents at its flagship Pacific Place mall in Admiralty, another epicentre of the protests.
With tourists staying away from the city, retail sales fell 23 per cent year on year to HK$29.4 billion (US$3.76 billion) in August, according to the Census and Statistics Department.
A government spokesman said it was the steepest year on year decline by value for a single month on record, even worse than in September 1998 during the Asian financial crisis.
The 9,000-member Hong Kong Retail Management Association (HKRMA) warned the worst was yet to come and October's retail sales could reach a new low as the anti-government protests showed no signs of abating.
Wharf Holdings, the owner of Harbour City...