China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By SO­PHIE HE in Hong Kong so­phiehe@chi­nadai­

Hong Kong re­tail­ers are tak­ing a num­ber of mea­sures this year to at­tract shop­pers, in­clud­ing deeper and ear­lier dis­counts, ma­jor promotional events and flashier Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions.

The man­age­ment of Har­bour City, one of the most pop­u­lar shop­ping malls in Hong Kong with main­land visi­tors, said it has ar­ranged a se­ries of dis­plays to at­tract tourists.

The ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude a Dis­ney panoramic Christ­mas dis­play and a glass fairy­land.

In ad­di­tion, the mall said that cus­tomers wear­ing red cloth­ing items on Dec 24 will get a sur­prise gift from the mall’s Santa Claus.

Other com­pa­nies are also try­ing to boost the sea­son’s spirit.

El­iz­a­beth Kok, re­tail port­fo­lio di­rec­tor at Swire Prop­er­ties, told China Daily that her com­pany cre­ated its own mall dec­o­ra­tions and brought in per­form­ers to en­ter­tain shop­pers.

“This year, Pa­cific Place’s win­ter scenes are pop­u­lated by a mag­i­cal ro­bot Santa and his team of ro­bot elves, snow­men and rein­deer,” said Kok, adding that Pa­cific Place — a pop­u­lar shop­ping mall in Ad­mi­ralty — also ex­tended its hours in De­cem­ber.

Yet it’s too early to say whether the promotional events will boost sales. Caro­line Mak Suik­ing, chair­man of the Hong Kong Re­tail Man­age­ment As­so­ci­a­tion, told a con­fer­ence call that most mem­bers of the as­so­ci­a­tion are only ex­pect­ing sin­gle-digit sales growth for the Christ­mas pe­riod.

How­ever, “jew­elry and watch re­tail­ers are more pos­i­tive, they’re ex­pect­ing dou­ble-digit sales growth”, she said.

Mak said that last Christ­mas, re­tail sales in Hong Kong in­creased 11 per­cent year-onyear, which was “not much”.

“So, if you take the base ef­fect into con­sid­er­a­tion, re­tail­ers re­ally are not ex­pect­ing much this Christ­mas.”

In­dus­try ob­servers said that Hong Kong’s Christ­mas shop­ping sea­son used to be more fes­tive. The city used to see re­tail sales growth of more than 20 per­cent year-on-year, and even more than that dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son.

Mak said the gloomy ex­pec­ta­tions for the Christ­mas hol­i­day pe­riod are be­cause many re­tail­ers be­lieve that most main­land visi­tors al­ready did their shop­ping dur­ing the “Golden Week” break in early Oc­to­ber.

Re­tail­ers now ex­pect fewer peo­ple from the main­land to visit Hong Kong dur­ing Christ­mas as it’s not a pub­lic hol­i­day on the main­land.

“Also, many lo­cal peo­ple will travel out­side of Hong Kong dur­ing Christ­mas, which is not good news for lo­cal re­tail­ers,” Mak said.

She also said that lo­cal con­sump­tion lev­els in 2013 were not very strong.

“The sales of food, fur­ni­ture and elec­tronic prod­ucts only in­creased by around 5 per­cent dur­ing the first 10 months of the year,” said Mak, adding that sales of those prod­ucts were af­fected by a slump in prop­erty trans­ac­tions in Hong Kong in 2013.

Mean­while, sales of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal prod­ucts and cos­met­ics rose by 12 per­cent yearonyear, mainly due to the fact that they’re prob­a­bly the fa­vorite prod­ucts of main­land visi­tors, she said.

“As lo­cal con­sump­tion has not been strong dur­ing the year, main­land visi­tors are even more im­por­tant now for the re­tail sec­tor in Hong Kong.”

Mak said that as eco­nomic growth slowed on the main­land, con­sump­tion lev­els also de­clined.

The ma­jor­ity of main­land tourists now are from smaller cities. “The spend­ing habits of main­land trav­el­ers have also changed, they’re spend­ing less and buy­ing less ex­pen­sive prod­ucts.”

She added that re­tail sales in Novem­ber and De­cem­ber are likely to record “high sin­gledigit” or “low dou­ble- digit” year-on-year growth.

Ac­cord­ing to the city’s Cen­sus and Sta­tis­tics Depart­ment, in the first 10 months of 2013, to­tal re­tail sales in­creased by 11.9 per­cent year-on-year.

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