How Zara Became the Latest Retailer Entangled in the Hong Kong Protests

Zara has found itself in the spotlight amid continued protests in Hong Kong — which have led to unexpected store closures and a significant drop in tourist traffic across the region.

On Monday, Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao questioned the reason behind four Zara outposts reportedly closing that day, suggesting that staff members were involved in anti-Beijing strikes that subsequently interrupted store operations. But the fast-fashion giant responded in a post on Chinese social media platform Weibo, writing that it “has never supported strikes and has never published any statements” related to demonstrations in Hong Kong.

“Zara supports the integrity of the territorial sovereignty of the People’s Republic of China and has consistently supported ‘one country, two systems,'” it wrote in a translated post, which received nearly 265,000 engagements as of midday Tuesday.

The retailer has 14 stores in Hong Kong, with a spokesperson from parent company Inditex reportedly telling a number of media outlets that four of its locations opened later in the day due to disruptions in employees’ commutes to work. (FN has reached out to Zara for further comment.)

At the start of the week, thousands of Hong Kong students boycotted classes and took to the streets in a peaceful rally seeking democracy. It came a day after some of the worst violence that racked the city, with a fire raging near police headquarters and an hours-long shutdown of the Hong Kong International Airport.

Many retailers have already noted an impact on their businesses: Kering, Prada and Hugo Boss issued separate reports in recent earnings conference calls. Experts have suggested that sales will slow for retailers in the coming months, with global professional services firm PwC recently revising its Hong Kong full-year retail sales forecast to a 5% drop from 3%.

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