Date
29 March 2017
Lunar New Year envelopes, which come in many colors nowadays, have become popular souvenir items for visitors. Photo: Facebook
Lunar New Year envelopes, which come in many colors nowadays, have become popular souvenir items for visitors. Photo: Facebook

Why red-packet retailers are popping up in prime locations

During the Lunar New Year period, most Hongkongers would need some red envelopes to put in lucky money for kids, for young unmarried colleagues or for doormen.

The envelopes are often obtained free as they are given away by banks, corporate houses or business counterparties. Hence, not many people would actually want to, or need to, pay for the items.

So, it’s a bit surprising that in prime districts such as Tsim Sha Tsui, Causeway Bay and Mongkok, we have seen some new red packet outlets opened by a specialist retailer, Chinese Red Packet. 

The Tsim Sha Tsui outlet is located on premises where a Chow Tai Fook store once stood. The jewelry shop, which used to pay HK$2.6 million a month as rent, decided not to extend the lease due to a general slowdown in Hong Kong’s luxury retail segment.

The Hong Kong Economic Journal talked to some real-estate agents to find out how the red packet vendor is able to afford that premium retail space.

The truth is that there have been rising vacancies in street-level shops due to the lackluster sales. Landlords are more willing to accept short leases while waiting for long-term tenants.

While some spots have been successfully leased out to long-term tenants, there is still a time lag before the new lease starts. Owners don’t mind offering the shops for a month or two on the cheap to at least get some income during the period.

Still, we are talking something like HK$200,000 monthly rental. Are sales enough to cover that?

Locals who want their red packets printed with unique or funny blessing words don’t mind forking out a small sum. There are also locals who want their surname on the envelopes to differentiate the gift packets from those of others.

Meanwhile, the items are also said to be very popular with visitors who buy them as souvenirs, as the products come in all kinds of designs and colors including gold, pink, and purple.

Going for about HK$100 a small pack of 50, the pricing is actually quite high and the profit margin pretty fat.

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RC

EJ Insight writer

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