Hong Kong Expects a Quarter of Retail Stores to Shut Down by the End of the Year

Despite government efforts to reduce the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, about 25% of retail stores in Hong Kong are expected to shut down by the end of the year.

According to the Hong Kong Retail Management Association, roughly 2,000 outposts are anticipated to close in the months of February through April, with another 3,200 shops predicted to shutter next month. In the June to August period, it expects the closures of 3,400 stores, while an even higher 8,600 locations are forecasted to shut down between September and December. This amounts to a total of 17,200 closures — out of the 62,400 retail stores — in Hong Kong for 2020.

Last week, the Hong Kong government announced relief measures worth about HK$137.5 billion, or $17.7 billion at current exchange, to help boost struggling businesses and individuals in the semiautonomous region. A report published Wednesday by the territory’s tourism board revealed that the city’s visitor arrivals plummeted 98.6% year-over-year in March. (The tourism industry is one of the major pillars of Hong Kong’s economy.)

“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 HKRMA chair Annie Yau Tse.

This marks the 14th straight month of retail sales declines in Hong Kong. In February, the region’s retail sales plunged a record 44% from the prior year as travel restrictions kept visitors away and residents avoided shopping centers to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which to-date has sickened more than 2.12 million people in the world and led to at least 141,400 deaths.

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