FISH­BAL­LO­NOMICS

HK Magazine - - COVER STORY -

Hong Kong doesn’t need com­pli­cated eco­nomic in­di­ca­tors: Fish­balls do the trick just fine.

Cause­way Bay is no­to­ri­ous for be­ing one of the most ex­pen­sive re­tail ar­eas in the world, but noth­ing tells the story bet­ter than fish­balls. Back in 2008, Sin­ga­porean pork jerky chain Bee Cheng Hiang forced a street food ven­dor out of its prime lo­ca­tion on Cause­way Bay’s Sogo in­ter­sec­tion by fork­ing out about $330,000 per month for the tiny space, around three times what the fish­ball stall was pay­ing. If the fish­ball sell­ers had stuck to that lo­ca­tion, they would have had to sell around 1,571 fish­ball skew­ers a day to cover the rent.

This year, at the Lunar New Year Fair in Vic­to­ria Park, wed­ding ban­quet and restau­rant group ClubOne paid a record $630,000 for a 392-square-foot stall to sell abalone and fish­balls dur­ing the week-long event. Two other snack ven­dors paid $450,000 or more for their stalls. With rent like this, ClubOne would have to sell 9,000 fish­ball skew­ers a day, at $10 each, for the seven days of the fes­ti­val, just to break even—and that’s be­fore con­sid­er­ing other over­head costs.

So much for cheap eats.

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