Xmas spending set to fall amid uncertainty

Local | Sophie Hui 21 Dec 2018

This Christmas isn't shaping up to be a rosy one, with 20 percent of people planning to spend less this holiday period in expectation of the economy turning sour, according to a survey.

But more Hongkongers are expected to travel to Macau, with bus firms deploying more vehicles to operate on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge during the Christmas break.

The Hong Kong Research Association interviewed 1,082 people from December 12 to 18 on their Christmas spending. Among respondents, 19 percent say they plan to spend less than last Christmas, while 46 percent may spend the same amount, and 15 percent would spend more.

For the fifth consecutive year, the percentage of people who expect to spend less exceeded those who projected higher spending, the association said.

It said the results showed that people will be more cautious in spending money during the Christmas holidays.

Some 39 percent of respondents also said they would set a limit for their Christmas spending. Among them, 80 percent said they would spend no more than HK$2,000 during the holidays.

The survey also asked people what they thought about the economic situation in Hong Kong. Two-fifth of respondents think the economy has been worse than last year, while 38 percent said it didn't change much.

On next year's outlook, 32 percent say it will be worse, while 42 percent expect it will be similar to this year. The association believed factors like global trade disputes, and stock and property markets being under pressure are making people pessimistic.

It suggested government and merchants create a better holiday atmosphere, as well as understanding the needs of citizens and tourists better, in order to stimulate consumer spending.

Many restaurants have yet to be fully booked for the Winter Solstice. Simon Wong Ka-wo, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades, said bookings at Chinese restaurants were 80 to 90 percent full on Saturday.

But he said many people have chosen to celebrate the festival earlier, and expected there will be 5 percent growth in business this year.

"We were a bit worried before November. However, after December 1, the trade dispute between China and America has been alleviated, and there were more bookings. We have seen that people are more active in spending on dining over the past two weeks," he said.

Wong said some middle and high-end Chinese restaurants had hiked prices by less than 5 percent, but many ordinary restaurants kept prices unchanged.

"After the launch of high-speed rail and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, many people spent on the mainland, which affected the restaurant industry a bit," he said.

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