Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Whole Gamut

During my trip to Hong Kong I talked to friends and family who have lost jobs because of the financial crisis.

One works for a bank and the financial institution has its hands tied not being able to do its job of lending and borrowing money.

Another works for a graphics design company and since he's been there for eight years, his compensation package should be big, but he doesn't expect to get the whole amount.

And another who is still chasing her old boss for back pay, couldn't even give her HK$1,000 last month for her to pay the rent. She had to call her landlord and explain the situation, who was luckily understanding.

However, there are other landlords who think they can get even more money in these tough times. A popular bakery in Hong Kong closed about a week ago after the landlord raised the rent to over HK$300,000 ($38,700) a month. How can the eatery pay that amount despite being busy all day? Imagine how many buns and tarts they'd have to sell?

In these lean times, one would think a landlord would prefer to have his or her space occupied than empty. Some people are just too greedy.

And then there are those who have had to downsize big time.

I heard about a woman who had a good job, lived in the tony Mid-Levels area with her two children who went to international schools where tuition is HK$10,000 ($1,290) a month. She also had a maid and a chauffeur.

But then this woman recently lost her job and has now been reduced to moving her family to a small apartment in Sha Tin in the New Territories minus the maid, chauffeur and car.

Meanwhile, a well-known clothing chain is trying to keep sales afloat with an interesting sales promotion.

Bossini, which produces casualwear, invites visitors to Hong Kong to enjoy a 20 percent on HK$800 or more on clothing provided they present their passport at the till.

Sales were pretty brisk at the Tsim Sha Tsui store even though many customers didn't reach the quota.

So 2009 will definitely be a test of who is most financially fit to weather the economic slowdown.

While things in Hong Kong appeared to be buoyant with the Christmas and New Year holidays, it will definitely be after Chinese New Year when things will become more apparent of how things will play out in the Special Administrative Region.

People are still buying, but being more careful with their consumer choices. They are demanding more for their buck and time is on their side.

Retailers, restaurants and other service-oriented industries are going to see it tough. But just like the 1997 financial crisis, Hong Kong will figure a way out and its people are resilient to keep going, somehow.

While service in this town is already much improved and visitor-friendly, the current economic slowdown will only result in even better service to cater to anyone willing to open their wallets.

1 comment:

ks said...

have faith, hong kong is a survivor. it has gone through sars, financial tsunami, political upheaval, social unrest etc. this economic downturn is just one of them. may be that is good to scale down the ugly hong kong arrogance.