Hong Kong retail sector mulls slashing over 5,600 jobs in coming 6 months

11, Dec. 2019

HONG KONG, NNA - Hong Kong retailers are considering cutting jobs and closing stores on a massive scale as they have faced significant falls in sales due to continued social unrest since early June, an industry survey found.

Thirty percent of retailers would cut their workforce by an average of 10 percent over the next six months if the business environment remains unchanged and no appropriate countermeasures are taken, according to the survey released Monday by the Hong Kong Retail Management Association (HKRMA).

Based on the entire workforce of some 270,000 in the territory’s retail industry, over 5,600 jobs would be subject to elimination, the association said.

Also, 11 percent of retailers said they plan to close businesses in the next six months, equivalent to an estimated 7,000 companies among the 64,000 retail firms in Hong Kong, according to the survey conducted between Oct. 29 and Nov. 22.

HKRMA polled 176 retailers operating 4,310 shops and hiring about 89,700 employees, the retail industry body said.

Hong Kong monthly retail sales have suffered double-digit percentage decreases year-on-year since July and plunged 24 percent in October, the worst ever drop since statistics became available, according to the Census and Statistics Department.

Among the surveyed firms, 97 percent have posted losses in profits since June. Many of the retailers, regardless of whether they are chain operators or small shop owners, have taken measures such as unpaid leave, job cuts, and reduction in the number of stores amid deteriorating the business environment.

Following the spread of anti-government protests across China’s semi-autonomous region triggered by an extradition bill and escalating violence between police and protestors, HKRMA Chairwoman Annie Tse Yau On-yee said, “We are facing the worst ever situation in our history.”