Lunar fair surprise as stall prices surge amid worries

Top News | Sophie Hui 6 Nov 2018

The biggest fast-food stall for the Lunar New Year Fair at Victoria Park has been auctioned for HK$520,000 - a 4 percent increase from last year.

It is still much lower than the 2016 record of HK$820,000.

The base prices of the three fast-food stalls have increased 2.2 percent from last year. This year, the base price of the largest fast-food stall - 7.6 meters by 4.8m - is HK$374,850, up from last year's HK$366,780.

The base price of the two other fast-food stalls - both five meters by four meters - was HK$200,780.

Also going up for auction yesterday at the Lai Chi Kok Government Offices were 180 wet goods stalls.

The auctions for dry goods stalls will be held from today until Thursday.

The fair will run from January 30 to February 5.

Wong Tak-fat, senior superintendent of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, said bidders were "cautiously optimistic."

This was a little surprising, watchers said, as traders are expecting a grim 2019 amid the Sino-US trade war.

Simon Wong Ka-wo, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, said the trade war might be having a psychological impact on people but the launch of the mega bridge has brought many tourists to Hong Kong, benefiting the economy.

"The retail and catering sales in these last few months were not very good, but toward the end of the year and during Lunar New Year, it's peak season for people to spend money," he said.

The auction was kicked off with the biggest fast-food stall, which was bought after 12 bids. The bidder also won one of the two smaller fast-food stalls at HK$410,000.

The third fast-food stall went for HK$400,000 after nine bids.

Lau Hoi-tao, king of the peach blossom who has attended fair auctions for over 40 years, said 60 percent of trees were damaged by Super Typhoon Mangkhut, so prices are expected to surge 50 percent.

With less supply, Lau said he would bid for 12 stalls this year, one fewer than last year.

Another plant seller, Kevin Wong, won a stall for HK$71,888 - much more than last year's price of HK$30,000.

He said the price was higher than he expected but hopes he could recoup his costs.

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