Date
12 November 2019
Hong Kong's retail businesses are feeling the pain from the social unrest arising from the government's extradition bill misadventure. Photo: Reuters
Hong Kong's retail businesses are feeling the pain from the social unrest arising from the government's extradition bill misadventure. Photo: Reuters

Social unrest taking a toll on retail industry

Hong Kong recorded a 6.7 percent slide in retail sales in June from a year earlier, marking the fifth straight month of contraction, data released last week showed. Estimated total sales for the month were down 7.6 percent excluding price factors.

A government spokesman attributed the steep decline to cautious consumer sentiment and a drop in visitor arrivals.

History tells us that the rise and fall of a city and a nation is closely tied to governance.

Hong Kong witnessed social unrest on many occasions in the past, with issues such as national security legislation, education-related plans and election arrangements prompting citizens to take to the streets in protest.

In 2014, we saw the Occupy Central movement, and now we are witnessing large-scale turbulence due to the government’s ill-advised push of an extradition bill.

As social turmoil has become increasingly serious and the administration finds itself unable to put an end to the crisis, consumers are becoming more cautious. Foreign tourists have also begun to stay away for now.

Retail industry is bearing the brunt of all these developments, and this will eventually weigh on the broader economy.

The Catalan independence movement in Spain and Yellow Vests protests in France both arose from heightened public grievances, and people took to the streets in large numbers. Both movements ended up in bloody conflict and all were losers.

I sincerely hope the Hong Kong government will hold talks with different stakeholders and respond to the public’s demands to defuse the tense social atmosphere.

We can only pray that the social unrest triggered by the controversial extradition bill will come to an end soon.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug 5

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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RC

Hong Kong Information Technology Federation honorary chairman