The Hong Kong Retail Management Association (HKRMA) said on April 16 that about 25 percent of retail stores in the Asian financial hub were expected to close by the end of the year despite fresh government relief measures against the fallout from the CCP virus pandemic.
Some 2,000 stores are seen closing in the February-April period, with 3,200 shops expected to shut down in May, according to a survey by HKRMA, conducted before the government announced the new relief measures for smaller firms.
Another 6,600 stores are expected to close in the May-August period, while 8,600 are likely to face closure between September and December.
Hong Kong last week announced relief measures worth HK$137.5 billion ($17.7 billion) to help businesses and people stay afloat as the city joins global efforts to cushion the impact of the pandemic.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board said on Wednesday the citys visitor arrivals plunged 98.6 percent year-on-year in March.
HKRMA said about 17,200 stores were expected to close in 2020, accounting for one-quarter of the about 62,400 retail stores in Hong Kong, if there was no sign of improvement in the situation.
“We will see that when you walk past every four stores, one will be closed, indicating that the retail sector is in a very rigorous stage of depression,” said HKRMAs chairwoman, Annie Yau Tse.
“Manpower in not our biggest cost, our biggest cost is rent …without appropriate rent reduction from landlords, it may waste the effort and the relief measures from the government,” she said.
Hong Kongs retail sales fell by a record 44 percent in February from a year earlier, as travel restrictions kept tourists away and residents avoided shopping centers to prevent the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Some 5,200 retail employees are expected to have lost their jobs in the February-April period, and another 5,200 jobs are set to go in May, making up of about 4 percent of the 260,000 workforce in the retail sector, HKRMA said.