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

By Holly Chik holly.chik@scmp.com / https://www.scmp.com/business/companies/article/3027528/several-dozen-hong-kong-retailers-likely-fold-leaving-thousands?utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=contentexchange&utm_source=EdgeProp | September 18, 2019 2:47 AM SGT
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.
Since June 9, Hong Kong has been hit by protests, ignited by the now-withdrawn extradition bill. The hardest hit retailers are in Causeway Bay as the nearby Victoria Park is the rallying point for most of the protests.
The protesters have also organised demonstrations in other shopping districts such as Tsim Sha Tsui and Mong Kok, and arranged an online campaign called "Bye Buy Day HK", urging citizens to spend less on Fridays and Sundays and avoid retailers and other companies which do not share their political views.
In August, tourists to Hong Kong declined nearly 40 per cent " the second biggest year-on-year slump since the Sars epidemic in May 2003, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po wrote in a blog post on Sunday.
Lukfook Group, a listed Hong Kong jeweller which has nearly 50 branches in the city, said that it has no plan to reduce staffing level or make staff go on unpaid leave.
Nancy Wong, executive director and deputy CEO of Lukfook, however, said that the luxury retailer had seen a "significant drop" in daily footfall, but declined to provide figures.
She added that branches...