20 February 2019
With the World Cup matches to be telecast at unearthly hours, Hong Kong's bars will not reap any windfall. Photo: HKEJ
With the World Cup matches to be telecast at unearthly hours, Hong Kong's bars will not reap any windfall. Photo: HKEJ

HK retail and F&B sectors do not see big World Cup bonanza

An 11-hour time zone difference with Brazil will cause headaches to the retail outlets, eateries, bars and pubs in Hong Kong that aim to cash in on the World Cup next month, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Monday.

In contrast to matches in the previous World Cups and UEFA Champions Leagues over the past decade that were hosted at evening time Hong Kong, helping boost sales of local food and beverage (F&B) outlets by at least 20 percent, the World Cup this year will run after midnight, with key matches to begin at dawn when most of the pubs are already closed.

What even worse is that many regular pub goers have made it clear that they will take rest at home during the normal Happy Hours in the evening so that they can stay up at dawn to watch the World Cup matches at home, a veteran bar owner, identified by his surname Ng, told the paper.

The Hong Kong Bar & Club Association has a gloomy outlook for the duration of the World Cup, although the actual potential impact remains uncertain. A majority of the members have chosen not to bring live coverage of the matches to their customers given the relatively high cost of showing the matches. The cost of screening the matches is said to be about HK$50,000 (US$6,449).

Only about 30 percent the bars and clubs are said to have installed the pay-TV boxes.

The Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades said their members will have to extend service hours if they want to screen the matches. Overheads and staff costs will surely increase while fierce competition for late night customers could increase the marketing and promotions costs.

The tourism sector also expects a hard time. Michael Wu Siu-ying, chairman of the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong, said the sector is used to the impact of mega international sports events overseas, with potential visitors either staying in their home countries or travelling to the host nations.

Wu projected a significant drop in group tours to Hong Kong from the mainland during the World Cup, especially in the last two weeks of the tournament, further dragging down the usual tough season in June.

The World Cup kicks off on June 12 with a match between Brazil and Croatia at the Itaquerao stadium in São Paulo.

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