Only 86 wet-goods stalls and three fast-food stalls were sold in auctions for stalls in next year’s Lunar New Year fair at Victoria Park on Tuesday.
The first of two days of auctions held by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) attracted fewer bidders, compared with last year. A total of 120 wet-goods stalled were offered on Tuesday.
Reserve prices had been set at only half of the level last year as the FEHD hoped to support small and medium-sized enterprises. Prices ranged from HK$320 to HK$5,440 for wet-goods stalls and HK$3,810 to HK$187,430 for fast-food booths.
A spokesman for the FEHD said last week it decided to provide no dry-goods stalls, except booths for selling flowers, in next year’s fair in order to safeguard public safety and public order, and implement crowd control measures more effectively.
In the past, the best-sellers were novelty items sold by political parties and community groups.
According to the FEHD, the decision was made in view of the current social situation as the government has the responsibility to ensure the safety of stall owners and visitors.
After Tuesday’s auctions, a spokesman for the department said the average reserve price for the wet-goods stalls was HK$6,575, with the successful bids ranging from HK$5,440 to HK$17,000.
The auction of both wet-goods and fast-food stalls fetched a total of HK$968,400, much less than the more than HK$6.7 million seen last year, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
The biggest fast-food stall, which is near the Causeway Bay entrance and typically attracts intense competition, went for HK$202,000 after 11 bids, which is the highest bid, compared to last year’s winning bid of HK$520,000, while the other two booths were sold for HK$100,590 and HK$100,390, against an opening price of HK$100,390.
Senior Superintendent Wong Tak-fat of the FEHD (Operations Division 1) said the cancellation of the dry-goods stalls could be a factor for the chilly demand. He also said it is hard to say at the moment whether the civil unrest will affect fair operations.
Asked by media whether his department will ban anti-government protest slogans put up at the fairs, Wong said there are no guidelines to that effect at the moment.
The LNY fairs will be held in 15 locations in the city for seven days from Jan. 19 to 25. A total of 1,284 wet-goods stalls and 18 fast-food stalls will be put up for auction.
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