Landlords urged to cut rents

Local | Sophie Hui 23 Aug 2019

Retailers have urged landlords to slash rents by half to help them ride out the economic storm.

The Hong Kong Retail Management Association said yesterday it has sent a letter to all shop owners asking them to reduce rents by 50 percent for six months.

Sales have fallen by double-digit percentages since June, with most seeing more than 50 percent declines from the start of this month, the association said.

Retailers have to bear great pressure on cash flow with operational costs running and revenue plunging.

"If the situation continues to deteriorate, it is expected that many retailers may need to lay off employees, or even close down the business," it said.

The association also said the measures announced by the government last week cannot provide targeted support to the industry, and urged immediate measures, such as the extension of financial assistance and waivers of government rates.

It said last month retail sales for the peak July-August period will see a double-digit drop from last summer.

And there is fear the trend will continue for the rest of the year because of the protests.

It revised down its full-year retail sales forecast to a double-digit decline from single-digit growth.

Meanwhile, HSBC, Standard Chartered and Bank of East Asia called for a peaceful resolution of the extradition bill saga in advertisements in Chinese-language newspapers yesterday.

HSBC said it was deeply concerned about recent events and strongly condemned violence and behavior that upset public order.

It also said the rule of law was vital to maintaining Hong Kong's status as an international financial center.

"That is why we fully support the goal to resolve the present situation peacefully," the bank said.

Standard Chartered said it opposed all violent clashes and urged the public to work together to restore peace as soon as possible. The bank said it supported one country, two systems and the SAR government in its efforts to maintain social order.

The Bank of East Asia said it opposed violence and called for protection of the rule of law, boosting the economy and cultivating harmony.

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