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Goodbye luxury stores, hello restaurants - Hong Kong streets transformed during Covid

Luxury retail chains are losing their once-iron grip on Hong Kong’s shopping streets, as Covid-19 keeps visitors away and forces the city to shift toward restaurants and bars catering to residents.

Across the Asian financial hub, one in five shops targeting mainly Chinese tourists and selling jewellery, medicine, cosmetics, clothing and leather goods has closed since the third quarter of 2018 -- before pro-democracy protests and the pandemic dealt blows to the city’s economy -- according to data from the research arm of a real estate agency.

The number of restaurants and food grocery outlets, by comparison, has grown 9 percent during the same period.

The trend is being felt in some of the most bustling shopping districts. At Sai Yeung Choi Street South in Kowloon, once a hotspot for mainland tourists, six new restaurants and bars have opened during the period while 12 cosmetics and personal care shops have shut down. Percival Street in central Hong Kong has seen five watch and jewellery shops shut since the third quarter of 2018, and added one food and drink business.

The shift has been a rapid one, given the typical life of a city. The protests -- portrayed in Beijing-backed media as violent and targeting mainlanders -- led to the disappearance of Hong Kong’s biggest source of tourists almost overnight. The city’s zero-tolerance approach to the virus, which includes quarantines of up to 21 days, has meant they’ve still not returned.

While the government is trying to ease border curbs with the mainland, the lack of a plan to reopen more broadly means Hong Kong risks falling behind other financial and shopping capitals, from Singapore to London.

In some ways, the pivot toward retail that caters to the city’s 7.4 million residents -- from long-time locals hunting dim sum to cashed-up expats on a night out -- marks a correction. The mainland’s growing footprint on Hong Kong, driving more stores catering to tourists than residents’ needs, was one frustration fuelling the protests in 2019.

“There’s been a big rebalancing toward local spending,” Jonathan Zeman, Chief Executive Officer of Lan Kwai Fong Group, a major landlord in Hong Kong’s nightclub district, told Bloomberg TV in an interview. “People who normally would fly around to Tokyo, Bangkok, Paris, they can’t do that now so they’re happy to find ways to spend locally.”

Ever since Covid-related restrictions on eateries started to ease in February, the food and drinks business has been bouncing back, driven by strong local demand, he said. Lan Kwai Fong’s overall occupancy rate has climbed back up to 98 percent and its catering businesses have returned to 2018 levels, Zeman added.

Before the pandemic, outlets of Luk Fook Holdings International Ltd., one of Hong Kong’s major jewellery chains, relied on mainland tourists for 60 percent of their business. Now, Luk Fook is one of the premium retail brands rolling out perks and upgrading services in an intensifying competition for what is a smaller group of local shoppers.

Luk Fook is partnering with a local e-commerce platform and setting up its own online shopping website, said Chief Financial Officer Kathy Chan. It’s cut some stores in major tourist districts and added new ones in local residential areas. And it’s rolling out lucky draws and vouchers to lure in customers, pegged to its 30th anniversary.

Signs for rival Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd. compete with Luk Fook’s on shopping thoroughfares across the city, and its Hong Kong operation once counted on tourists for half of its sales pre-pandemic. Now it’s joined Luk Fook in the battle to draw Hong Kongers through the door.

The company -- whose retail revenue in Hong Kong and Macau has plunged 60 percent in the two fiscal years since March 2019 -- has added Instagram spots at its stores to appeal to younger customers, said Executive Director Peter Suen. It’s also targeting quicker delivery.

A government initiative to hand out HK$5,000 (US$642) worth of spending vouchers to eligible residents to support local businesses amid Covid will last through mid-2022. It has also prompted a number of companies to compete for customers flush with extra cash, Suen said.
Hong Kong retail sales surged 12 percent in August to HK$28.6 billion, the biggest gain since April, fuelled by the vouchers. Retail sales recovered to 71 percent of 2018 levels in the first eight months of this year, government data shows.

The shift could last even after borders reopen and travel resumes, with mainland tourism likely still hindered by political concerns and challenges from e-commerce, said Emily Leung, a senior analyst at Euromonitor International in Hong Kong.

Some Chinese tourists who would previously come to Hong Kong to shop, particularly for luxury goods, might have already discovered online channels for those products during the pandemic, she said.

“In the coming three to four years, the share of local spending in Hong Kong’s retail industry will continue to be higher than before,” Leung said. “Tourist spending will recover, but it would be quite difficult for it to return to the 2018 levels after the past two years.” -- Bloomberg

(The Standard)


Yuen Long plot offered 3,565-flat upgrade

The Town Planning Board has received an application to turn a plot of land in Tung Shing Lei in Nam Sang Wai, Yuen Long into a comprehensive development area that could offer 3,565 flats upon completion.

The lot was applied for development at a plot ratio of approximately 3.182 times in 2019, but the application was later withdrawn. It was expected to provide 3,848 units with a total floor area of approximately 1.84 million square feet before the withdrawal.

Meanwhile, many new projects are ready for action.

Wheelock Properties' Koko Hills in Lam Tin will launch sales on Saturday, providing 101 units, including 87 units in the form of price lists and 14 flats via tenders.

Centralcon Properties' The Arles in Fo Tan has revealed its fourth price list, offering 134 units with an average price of HK$19,662 per sq ft after discounts.

Kowloon Development (0034) said it will upload the sales brochure and open the showrooms of Manor Hill in Tseung Kwan O as soon as this week.

Wing Tai Properties' (0369) Oma Oma in Tuen Mun will launch the remaining 50 units this week at the earliest.

Swire Properties (1972) will put up nine detached houses for sale with areas ranging from approximately 1,500 sq ft to 1,700 sq ft - each featuring three bedrooms and a 3,700 sq ft to 5,700 sq ft garden.

CK Asset's (1113) #Lyos in Yuen Long's Hung Shui Kiu - the first residential project in Hung Shui Kiu after the government announced the Northern Metropolis Development Strategy - will also post the sales brochure this week.

Sino Land (0083) expects to launch four brand new residential projects from the end of this year to next year, involving a total of about 5,000 units.

(The Standard)


寫字樓租金調整放緩 按季微跌0.3%












嘉里3.5億 沽西營盤縉城峰基座舖

每月租金收入逾70萬 回報約2.4厘

民生區商舖回報較穩健,消息指,嘉里 (00683) 以約3.5億元,沽出西營盤縉城峰基座商舖,由本地投資者承接,回報率約2.4厘。


銅鑼灣怡東商場舖 餐飲50萬租






北部都會區概念 帶動天水圍商住發展





有發展商早前憧憬洪水橋將建成為新發展區,增加居住人口,從而帶動區內的商業需求。當中較矚目為新地 (00016) 持有的天水圍橋頭圍項目,地皮位於洪天路與屏廈路交界,鄰近西鐵天水圍站,擬建成1幢31層高的商廈。上述地皮佔地約10.71萬平方呎,總樓面面積約85.65萬平方呎,其中零售商場樓面佔約50.05萬平方呎,辦公室則佔約35.59萬平方呎的樓面,落成後有機會變成「天水圍版」的觀塘創紀之城5期apm項目。


酒店重建 增51萬呎商業樓面

同時,在疫情影響下,不少發展商變陣,就旗下酒店申請重建,其中由長實 (01113) 持有的天水圍嘉湖海逸酒店,去年亦獲城規會批准在有附帶條件下重建為兩幢樓高53層高分層的大型住宅項目,總樓面涉逾200萬平方呎,提供約5,000個單位。屋苑基座1至3層亦會提供大型商場,商業面積約51.6萬平方呎,料成為區內最大型商場之一。




投資者伺機沽貨 帶動商舖成交


俊宏軒舖 接連大額交易

於本年年初,有投資者趁機拆售天水圍新天地廣場 (新北江商場) 的地下10間舖位,所有舖位屬中細銀碼成交,其面積介乎119至378平方呎。另外,位於天水圍天瑞路88號俊宏軒於年初接連錄大額成交,當中L19及L20地舖,面積約710平方呎,年初亦以約5,500萬元成交,平均呎價約7.7萬元。同時,位於1樓101至102號舖,面積約9,296平方呎,年初亦以1.05億元沽出,呎價約1.1萬元。















東角道26號怡東商場地下13至16號鋪,連1樓,屬複式鋪位,由「賭王」何鴻燊 (已故) 四太梁安琪旗下尚嘉控股持有,建築面積約6000方呎,以每月50萬租出,新租戶為食肆,租金較該鋪高峰期月租約220萬,低約77%。










大角嘴周勝記商廈1.53億易手 老牌建築商沽貨 投資者吳天偉承接