Final World Cup push for busy bars, malls

Top News | Charlotte Luo 13 Jul 2018

Bars and shopping malls in Hong Kong are ready to welcome flocks of customers on Sunday night when France go head to head with Croatia in the football World Cup final.

The highly anticipated match will kick off at 11pm.

Croatia defeated England 2-1 and qualified for their first-ever World Cup final, while France defeated Belgium 1-0 to reach the final for the first time since 2006.

England and Belgium will clash for third place at 10pm on Saturday.

Many malls have seen increasing foot traffic and sales since the World Cup kicked off in Russia on June 14.

APM saw 9.9 million customers between June 14 and July 12, a 20 percent increase over the same period last year, and turnover reached HK$280 million, a 23 percent rise.

Tai Po Mega Mall has welcomed 6.2 million customers in the past 29 days, 18 percent up from the same period last year. Turnover has surged by 16 percent to HK$230 million.

East Point City has seen an 18 percent rise in traffic since the World Cup began and a 28 percent increase over the same period last year.

It is estimated that over 500 fans watched Croatia's clash with England at APM, even though it started at 2am yesterday.

East Point City drew nearly 1,000 fans to watch the live broadcast. A total of 100 couches were offered to viewers and these will continue to be available during the final on Sunday.

The malls are expecting an influx of visitors on the night of the final.

More than 230 pubs and bars, or about 20 percent of all such establishments in the city, have been broadcasting the matches.

Richard Feldman, the owner of Al's Diner, said many bars and restaurants in Lan Kwai Fong, including his, have been broadcasting the games and extending their opening hours.

"A lot of bars, for example, close at 1am during the week. But because of the World Cup, they remain open until 4 or 5 in the morning."

Feldman has faced a tough task managing manpower in order to stay open for longer hours.

"We might get staff to work split shifts that night and come in later. We have part-time staff to handle the extra time. Some people just work longer hours, and compensate that alternatively."

He said England games drew the most customers to his bar, and this was especially the case during their thrilling encounter with Croatia. "It was amazing! It was a nail-biter!" he said.

He insisted he is prepared for an influx of customers on Sunday night.

"Even though Monday is a work day, people want to be out with friends to watch the final. Because of the final, the bars will be packed. There will be more people than any other games. Had England been in the final, it would be even more. But I still think it's going be well-attended."

More stories: Pages 43 and 44

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