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How recent events have affected Hong Kong’s Retail and Consumer industry

31 Mar 9:00 by Wing Yip
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It is evident that the novel coronavirus has affected economies and led to uncertainties that are likely to cast over markets in the foreseeable future. But unlike its neighbouring territories, Hong Kong is not only affected by the recent COVID-19 outbreaks but also the months of political unrest that preceded, putting the city in a unique situation where businesses must constantly adapt to survive.

 

Being one of the first regions affected by COVID-19 has inhibited Hong Kong’s ability to take advantage of the usual holiday rush, with visitor count dropping over 50% YoY in January, a drastic drop considering Lunar New Year landed in January this year but February last. In turn, it led to a 23% YoY decrease in retail sales volume and a 21% YoY decrease in value. While it has been a general trend across retail, watches & jewellery and luxury goods are some of the most affected sectors.

 

With the recent second wave causing even more uncertainties in the market, companies have enacted different policies to alleviate the situation in hopes of not resorting to methods like pay cuts or layoffs.

 

Within the fashion and luxury space, one of the trends we witnessed is the shortening of frontline operating hours. A lot of stores are operating with 11am - 7pm or 12pm - 8pm shifts, with most MNC stores closing at 8. On top of that, we’re also seeing some businesses offering a two-day-on-two-day-off schedule with full pay and guaranteed bonus, with others asking their staff to take annual leaves or opt for unpaid leaves. As for the back-office, flexible working arrangements are introduced, giving employees the option to remote work and adopt flexible working hours.

 

The current climate has undoubtedly slowed down recruitment within this space, with a good number of headcounts frozen or delayed until the second half of the year. But rest assured, things are still happening and there is still plenty of talent out there in the market looking for their next opportunity.

 

If you’re curious to find out more about how the market is performing or if you need any support with your hiring, don’t hesitate to contact me at wyip@argyllscott.com.hk.