Easter revival revives hopes for malls and stores after pandemic

The malls saw a more than 50% increase in retail and pedestrian traffic during the four-day Easter holiday, mainly due to the first HK$5,000 in consumer vouchers.

Sino Land said Olympian City in West Kowloon, tmtplaza in Tuen Mun and Citywalk in Tsuen Wan saw increases of 50% in business and 25% in visitors compared to last month.

Bella Chhoa, director of asset management at Sino Group, said consumption rebounded and retail sales improved in the past two weeks after the government disbursed the first batch of consumer vouchers.

“Shopping malls have seen significant growth in both foot traffic and turnover, especially in the last four days of the Easter holiday. Some traders even said their business had doubled,” Chhoa said. .

“Among them, tenants selling shoes and handbags, health and personal care products, and cosmetics have seen their business increase significantly, with some brands saying their sales have increased by 100%, while that restaurant and electronic products activities also increased by more than 35%.

She said Sino Group mall restaurants are optimistic about the lifting of the dinner ban on Thursday, as many of them have already received dinner reservations.

“We believe foot traffic and business can return to pre-pandemic levels,” Chhoa said, adding that many restaurants have actually opened recently in its malls.

Sino Group is also launching a rewards program on Thursday where members can earn up to HK$3,000 in coupons. The program ends June 1.

Sun Hung Kai Properties said its 15 malls saw a 50% increase in foot traffic and 30% increase in business over the past 30 days. Its chief executive, Maureen Fung Sau-yim, said more than 300 merchants in its malls had rolled out discounts coupled with rewards programs in the past two weeks for customers who use their vouchers.

“Jewellery stores and merchants selling electronics had the best performance,” Fung said.

She said a jewelry store in Kwun Tong mpa saw its business increase by 60% compared to last month.

The store’s average daily shopper spent between HK$8,000 and HK$10,000 after offering a 30% discount on 18-karat gold jewelery that “attracted many couples”.

Large crowds also flocked to scenic spots and open spaces during the holidays. The masses of people were sometimes so large that a Lantau bus driver’s complaint about traffic jams in a voice recording went viral.

The driver said between swear words that Lantau was “sinking” because of some 100,000 tourists vacationing there – even before social distancing measures were relaxed on Thursday.

Describing the scene as similar to the days when people rushed to Hong Kong from Shenzhen for the Lunar New Year holiday, the driver pleaded, “Close the border. [Lantau Island is] shipwreck.”

Couples and many families with children were seen on Peng Chau, Cheung Chau and Lamma islands. Sai Kung and various hiking trails including Lion Rock were filled with nature lovers.

Separately, authorities have stepped up inspections and taken strict enforcement actions against restaurants and customers who violated anti-epidemic regulations during the holidays.

The Department of Food and Environmental Hygiene inspected a total of 476 catering businesses and 112 other premises on Sunday. She inspected 93 catering premises and seven other premises in a joint operation with police on Sunday.

Officers sued 13 catering establishments suspected of breaking anti-epidemic rules.

Locals have been ordered to stop selling or providing food or drink for consumption from 3 p.m. to 4:59 a.m. for periods of three, seven or 14 days.

A customer was fined HK$5,000 for failing to scan the LeaveHomeSafe QR code.

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About Octavia A. Dorr

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