Hong Kong retail landlords are relishing the chance to fire up sales this holiday season with a new round of incentives to complement online promotions as easier social-distancing rules bring shoppers back to malls.
Sun Hung Kai Properties, the biggest developer by market value, and peers including Sino Group and Lawsgroup are offering at least HK$12 million (US$1.5 million) in rebates, cash coupons and lucky draws to rejuvenate sales for their tenants, company officials said.
Some 18,000 sq ft of space has also been allocated to an entertainment outlet operator to spice up the shopping experience as the city looks forward to busier weekends ahead after months of gloom caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
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“We understand the past few months have been very challenging for many sectors, not least the catering industry,” said Cris Fung, retail marketing and customer relations general manager of the leasing department at SHKP. “We had earlier set up takeaway hotlines and developed an online food ordering and payment platform, which will be a win-win for both our tenants and customers.”
The efforts come with Hong Kong in a festive Mid-Autumn holiday mood, just days after the government declared that the third wave of Covid-19 cases was under control. Museums, karaoke bars and other entertainment outlets were allowed to reopen from September 18.
SHKP will launch a third round of promotions worth more than HK$10 million to support tenants in 23 malls in its stable, Fung said. This is in addition to the HK$60 million worth of packages planned for this year.
The group has seen a 20 to 30 per cent increase in footfall among its major malls on the weekend following the new September 18 rules, versus the levels in August, it said.
Some 100 food and beverage (F&B) outlets across 10 malls will first go on the food-ordering and payment platform by September, with the number doubling by the end of the year. SHKP will not charge its tenants for using the platform and the related devices, Fung added.
A special weekly event has been running from August via SHKP’s mobile app, where bargains are offered for redemption with points earned in spending. The campaign, which ends on October 1, has generated an overwhelming response, the developer said.
More than 1,200 branded gadgets and household appliances like air fryers, vacuum cleaners and hair dryers were sold out within five minutes on September 1, it added.
These bright spots are giving Hong Kong’s distressed retailers some encouragement amid grim headlines. Retail sales have slumped for 19 straight months as the economy slipped into a recession, with the latest government report showing a 13.1 per cent slide in August.
Sino Group expects a 30 per cent uptick in sales at its four shopping centres during the Mid-Autumn Festival into this weekend, versus the preceding week. The buzz from exhibitions and HK$2 million worth of cash coupons has spiked up average shopping by 25 per cent in September, said Andrea Leung, general manager of leasing marketing and promotions.
At Park Central in Tseung Kwan O, SHKP has arranged an exhibition based on Disney’s Frozen, the highest-grossing animated film series of all time, over 18,000 sq ft of space. It will last for three months from November 17, according to SHKP. It was originally planned for after Lunar New Year in February, but was delayed twice because of the pandemic and street protests.
At D2 Place Two in Lai Chi Kok, a retail property belonging to closely-held Lawsgroup, a 10,000 sq ft entertainment venue called Power Play Arena has livened up the scene. A kart-racing course there has become a major crowd puller to the shopping centre, much to the relief of Bosco Law.
The course, previously managed by another operator with an F&B business, could not survive the pandemic and social unrest, despite rent cuts since August last year, said Law, who is the deputy chairman and chief executive of Lawsgroup.
Such live entertainment venues are likely to become a trend, said Joe Lam, assistant general manager at SHKP. While online shopping has become prevalent, “experience-related” dining and entertainment can only be enjoyed on site, he added.
More from South China Morning Post:
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