Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Wednesday, Feb 01, 2023

Slow start for Hong Kong pub trade as World Cup kicks off

Slow start for Hong Kong pub trade as World Cup kicks off

Pubs still hedging bets on whether the tournament will prove a money-spinner for the trade.

Hong Kong football fans cheered as the World Cup at last kicked off on Sunday night, but the city’s pubs were unsure if the month-long tournament would mean a big win for business even though Covid-related restrictions on opening hours have been scrapped.

The city’s nightlife districts remained quiet, with only a few pubs along Lockhart Road in Wan Chai filled with football fans in the lead up to England’s clash with Iran at 9pm on Monday.

The Central bar district Lan Kwai Fong was quiet and pubs remained mostly empty an hour after the match began.

Only one or two pubs were showing the game, but the crowds appeared not to be paying much attention to the drama on the pitch.


Edward Langston, 18 (second from right) watches his first World Cup in Wan Chai’s Queen Victoria pub with a group of friends.

A bartender at Wan Chai’s Queen Victoria pub, who asked not to be named, said the usual Sunday crowd was larger than the World Cup fans that almost filled the bar.

“It’s more crowded here on a Sunday. There wouldn’t be space to move around,” the staff member said.

But the atmosphere hit fever pitch 10 minutes before the match kicked off, as empty seats filled up and fans sang the British national anthem and shouted “We love you, England, we do”.

Edward Langston and his friends, from Britain and all 18, were at the Queen Victoria for their first time watching a World Cup in a pub.

Langston highlighted the last-minute decision to ban alcohol sales around the stadiums in the host country.

“I don’t like that the World Cup is in Qatar. It’s not a sporting event there, it’s a branding event. Even if I got a ticket, I’d rather stay home and get smashed watching,” Langston said.

“I’m waiting for it to get packed and I hope to see an Iran fan soon,” friend Ceri Ryder said.

“The vibe is good here. It’s a shame about the time difference though. I didn’t watch the match last night.”

Gary Powell, a company head of customer services, said the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens tournament, staged earlier this month, had given him confidence that there would be a restriction-free World Cup experience at pubs.

The government relaxed restrictions to allow the consumption of food and drinks in the stands at the Hong Kong Stadium venue for the rugby matches.

“I’ve got used to it for the past months, but they were letting things ease for the Rugby Sevens, so I was expecting to be able to return,” Powell, 59, said.

Football fans at Central Market gathered around 8.30pm for the England-Iran match as an alternative to pubs.

The ground floor area of the market has been turned into an open football pitch-style grassed area with live broadcasts on a 4.5-metre tall LED TV and a lounge section.
Matt Roberts (fourth from the left) at Central Market with friends, said the atmosphere beat a bar.


Matt Roberts, 30, originally from the UK and who works on sustainability in food packaging, said: “We love the fact that it’s an open area where people can cheer as they want. And the vibe is way cooler than in a bar to support our home team.”

Viado Pocholo, the manager of the Beer Bar at Central Market, told the Post that it would extend its closing time from 11pm to 2am for the World Cup, but was unable to estimate how much business could be generated so early in the tournament.

Connie To, the manager of a two-storey pub and restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui, said it did not experience a big surge in customers for the opening match between Qatar and Ecuador and even shut up shop at 11.30pm as no customers arrived after 8pm.

“I closed the bar early because we want to save the utility bills. We were told to pay HK$36,000 (US$4,600) for broadcasting the World Cup matches, but we decided to just play those free-to-air matches, To explained.

“We already paid for a two-year Premier League subscription which we barely used due to the Covid-19 restrictions.”

Hong Kong officials loosened off the city’s Covid-19 restrictions on November 3 by scrapping the limit on the opening hours for bars and restaurants. Restaurants earlier were not allowed to provide dine-in services after midnight, and bars had to close at 2am.

But the cap on the number of people who can sit together remained, with 12 customers allowed per table in a restaurant and six to a table in bars.

Ben Leung Lap-yan, charter president of the Licensed Bar and Club Association of Hong Kong, admitted he had yet to feel a World Cup bounce at entertainment venues.

“The opening match happened to kick off on Sunday, but people needed to work the next day,” he said.

“In addition, the match was also available on a free TV channel, so it wasn’t necessarily able to draw people to the bars,” Leung said.

He also pointed out that the opening match did not feature fan favourites, so were unlikely to draw a big crowd.

Leung said there was no significant surge in the number of customers and business at bars, despite the relaxed Covid-19 curbs.

“The bars were quieter than we expected. One of the reasons I think was that many people chose to travel aboard, especially young consumers and people with more spending power. We don’t see business revitalised yet,” Leung added.

But he said he was hopeful that the pub trade would pick up by 20 to 30 per cent over the course of the tournament and into the later rounds, where more people were expected to go out to watch crunch fixtures.

Newsletter

Related Articles

Hong Kong News
Close
0:00
0:00
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
Chinese search giant Baidu to launch ChatGPT like AI chatbot.
What is ChatGPT?
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
China is opening up for foreign investors.
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
China's foreign ministry branch in Hong Kong urges British gov't to stop the biased and double standards Hong Kong report
China relaxes 'red lines' on property sector borrowing in policy pivot
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
Japan prosecutors indict man for ex-PM Shinzo Abe murder
Vietnam removes two deputy PMs amid anti-corruption campaign
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
China’s recovery could add 1% to Australia’s GDP: JPMorgan 
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
China vows to strengthen financial support for enterprises: official
International medical experts speak out against COVID-19 restrictions on China
2 Billion People To Travel In China's "Great Migration" Over Next 40 Days
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
Flight constraints expected to weigh on China travel rebound
Billionaire Jack Ma relinquishes control of Ant Group
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
Teslas now over 40% cheaper in China than US
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
UK chaos: Hong Kong emigrants duped by false prospectus
China seeks course correction in US ties but will fight ‘all forms of hegemony’, top diplomat Wang Yi says
China will boost spending in 2023
African traders welcome end of China’s Covid travel curbs
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
Preparations begin for Spring Festival travel rush
Domestic COVID-19 drug effective in trial
HK to see a full recovery, John Lee says in New Year message
Bargain hunters flock to last day of Hong Kong brands and products expo
Hong Kong aims for January 8 reopening of border with mainland China
×