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Friday, Jun 09, 2023

Mixed business seen in eateries and bars

Mixed business seen in eateries and bars

Restaurant operators are pessimistic about business at Christmas despite the further relaxation of anti-pandemic measures.
Catering veteran Simon Wong Ka-wo expects Christmas Eve will see a turnover of around HK$300 million, which if correct will be about 80 percent of business from the prepandemic total of HK$450 million.

Bookings do not reflect a festive time for operators, Wong said, as establishments by yesterday had around 50 percent of their capacities booked whereas in pre-Covid years they would have been full in the week before Christmas.

Still, he noted, Christmas Eve looks promising.

But Wong noted that a solid number of banquet bookings have been made for the Lunar New Year holiday period.

He is also hoping authorities can further relax the permitted maximum number for a banquet from the current 240 people and scrap the rapid antigen test requirement.

But bars are expecting a brighter time with improved revenues over the Christmas weekend.

Lan Kwan Fong Association chairman Allan Zeman told The Standard that football's World Cup that ended last night gave business a lift.

"People got used to going out at night as matches were played during the golden hours at bars," he explained.

"We're also assuming a decent business at clubs and bars as the mood is much better since 0+0 launched," he added, referring to last week's scrapping of the amber code system for overseas arrivals.

Still, proof of vaccination is still required for entry to designated premises including restaurants and bars.

And the border with the mainland remains closed.

As it is, Zeman sees the mood continuing during Christmas with a 10-15 percent growth of business in bars compared to pre-pandemic times, though it was hard to make forecasts after three years of Covid.

The chairman of the Hong Kong Bar and Club Association, Chin Chun-wing, said World Cup-linked activity tournament will have brought a total revenue of HK$700 million - up about 20 percent on pre-pandemic levels.

Chin also said lifestyles have changed drastically during the three years of pandemic.

Bars in districts including Tsuen Wan and Yuen Long had a better revenue thanks to local youngsters than those in places such as Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui due to the lack of tourists.

Shopping malls are meanwhile looking to festive growth in business during the year-end peak season.

Fifteen malls under Sun Hung Kai Properties have already recorded a 20-percent increase in shopper flows and sales compared to the corresponding period last year.
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