Business Hong Kong

Decline of HK’s retail industry? Shops sit empty in Causeway Bay despite rent cuts

Empty shop spaces have been spotted at some of the most vibrant streets in Hong Kong, as high-end stores and pharmacies close up shop after facing difficulties in business.

Apple Daily reported on Monday that six empty shops were counted near the intersection of Percival Street and Russell Street, located near Times Square in Causeway Bay. The area has been identified as one of the most expensive shopping streets in the world.

The location of the intersection of Percival Street and Russell Street. Photo: Google Map.

The newspaper also said the shops had remained empty despite sharp rental decreases of up to 50 percent. Pharmacies are among the shops that have closed down in the area.

On Tuesday, jewellery store Chow Tai Fook announced that it would continue to rent a shop in Mong Kok following a 40 percent rental cut agreement with landowners. In May, the company said it would close down one or two retail outlets in the city due to worsening business environment.

In late July, international luxury fashion brand Gucci said it might have to close down some shops if landowners did not reduce the rental price. The company’s chief financial officer, Jean-Marc Duplaix, said “some landowners did not realise that the business environment had changed.”

Gucci Store in Causeway Bay. Photo: Times Square.

Other luxury brands, including Louis Vuitton and Burberry, were also seeking rental decreases, according to Sing Pao.

According to the Census and Statistics Department, the total value of retail sales decreased by 1.6 percent in the first half of 2015, compared with the same period in 2014. In particular, the sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts have decreased by 10.4 percent in June 2015, compared with a year earlier. Retail sales of medicines and cosmetics were also down by 4.2 percent.

The statistics showed that the luxury market in Hong Kong had contracted, and revenues of high-end shops had decreased in 2015.

An empty shop at Percival Street in Causeway Bay. Photo: Apple Daily.

In April, Shenzhen authorities implemented a new policy that limited Shenzhen residents to one Hong Kong visit per week. The announcement was in response to locals’ complaints on congestion caused by mainland visitors. Previously, Shenzhen residents were allowed to visit Hong Kong within a one-year period after obtaining a permit.

In the first half of 2015, the total number of mainland visitors to Hong Kong increased by 4.7 percent compared to the same period last year. However, there was a 3.8 percent drop in the number of overnight mainland tourists, compared to the first half of 2014.

Decline of HK's retail industry? Shops sit empty in Causeway Bay despite rent cuts