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Hong Kong retail sales continue to rise supported by consumption voucher, government says

  Hong Kong retail sales as of September have grown for the eighth straight month as residents spend their HK$5,000 consumption vouchers intended to boost the local economy, announced the government today. Retail sales in September rose 7.3% from a year earlier to HK$28 billion. August also saw 11.9% growth from last year, the data showed. “The stable local epidemic and improving employment and income conditions, together with the Consumption Voucher Scheme, should remain supportive to the retail sector in the near term,” the announcement said. For the first nine months of this year, before the consumption vouchers were given out,  retail sales increased 8% in value and 6.8% in volume with an estimated increase of 43.5% in online retail sales from last year, according to the report. Sales of jewellery, watches, clocks and valuable gifts, which heavily depended on tourists from mainland China before the pandemic, continued to recover, as the value of sales climbed 16.2% from a year earlier, compared with 28% growth in August, the report said. “However, the virtually frozen inbound tourism will continue to constrain the extent of revival. To pave the way for a broader-based recovery of the retail sector and the overall economy, it is essential for the community to strive towards more widespread vaccination,” the spokesperson added. The government started allowing fully vaccinated non-residents from medium and low risk countries to enter Hong Kong in August. Previously only residents were allowed to enter the city. Hong Kong’s economy saw a “more moderate” growth in the third quarter of this year as the GDP increased 5.4% compared with last year, as the local pandemic stabilized and global economic activities continued to revive, said the government report. The government disbursed the second consumption vouchers of HK$2,000 and HK$3,000 to around 810,000 eligible residents on …


Despite Bright Figures in Food Delivery Industry, Staff are Facing Uncertainties

Every day, Edward Wong, 26, who is a freelance lifeguard and nursing assistant, spends a few hours delivering food in Tsuen Wan.  “I usually deliver food during my lunch time. Though the golden hours for taking orders are 7:30am-10am, 11:30am-1pm and 6:30pm-8:30pm, the frequency of orders highly depends on the location. For example, in Mong Kok and Sheung Wan, as long as you want, there will be orders to take,” said Wong, who works for both Foodpanda and Deliveroo, two of Hong Kong’s most popular food delivery services.  Wong is one of tens of thousands new food delivery drivers as demand for the service surged during the pandemic. Hongkongers are hungry. Hong Kong’s major delivery companies, Foodpanda, Deliveroo and Uber Eats, all reported significant increases in delivery demand.  A Deliveroo survey in January showed a 21% increase in spending and it predicted three-fourths residents are using the service more frequently.  Uber Eats said active users per month nearly tripled last year while total orders doubled, according to a Mingpao article. Foodpanda reported a 60% surge in orders during the first quarter of 2021. Companies are hiring thousands of delivery staff to meet the orders.  Last spring, the food delivery industry created 48,000 jobs, according to Hong Kong Business Times. But Wong said the number of delivery orders he gets has dropped because of a flood of new workers, and he plans to find another job soon.  “More people are becoming food delivery staff as they think the market is growing during the pandemic. However, the increase in staff is faster than the increase in orders in most areas,” said Wong, adding that his income has dropped by one-third from around HK$40,000 per month when he started.  While demand for food delivery surges, job positions open up. However, rising figures does …


Second batch of consumption vouchers spurs shopping spree

More than 5.5 million eligible Hong Kong residents could get a second batch of consumption vouchers today. It is part of a government incentive to kick start the economy amid the Covid pandemic. A total of $5000 will be given to those who qualify. Hongkongers who registered for the vouchers using their Octopus cards could get their second batch of HK$2,000 today. A third batch of HK$1,000 will be handed out from December 16. Those who registered using AlipayHK, Tap & Go, or WeChat Pay HK could get all of the remaining HK$3,000 of the handout. Jessie Wong Hok-ling, head of the Budget and Tax Policy Unit of the Financial Secretary's Office, said on a radio program on RTHK today that the distribution has gone very smoothly, and all of the vouchers were issued before 1 am. Shoppers lined up at convenience stores this morning to collect their consumption vouchers through Octopus. They could also get the vouchers through the Octopus app, octopus service points and subsidies collection points in designated MTR stations. "I think it's very convenient to receive and use consumption vouchers," said Law Gaa-lok, who got the HK$2,000 voucher at a convenience store in Mong Kok. "I mainly spent the vouchers on buying daily necessities," he added. Many shopping malls tried to attract customers by holding consumption voucher events. By noon, a long line of customers at APM mall in Kwun Tong were queuing up for bargains.  Among them Kelly Chan, who went there with her daughter l to buy clothes.“We happened to encounter the mall event,” she said. “The event is so favourable.” Linda Lam, who worked at Hey Candy in APM, said the voucher scheme has helped to boost business. “People's mood is better after getting the subsidies, so consumption will increase naturally," she said. …


Job seekers find it tough despite falling unemployment

  More than 1,800 jobs are on offer at the “Embracing New Opportunities” job fair. Some 40 companies from different industries are taking part in the two-day event. There are vacancies for store clerks, security guards, programmers, nurses and much more, according to the Labour Department.  The fair is held by the Labour Department and the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions at MacPherson Stadium in Mong Kok. Ms Au, who was not willing to reveal her full name, was one of the representatives for Mou Mou Club Limited and Gyukaku Yakiniku Restaurant, offering opportunities for waiters and cooks. She said they have received more applications this year than in the past few years. “Competition for jobs (in the catering industry) has become more and more intense, so people are now seeking jobs in other industries,” she said.   Most of the vacancies at the fair offer monthly salaries from HK$10,000 to HK$20,000. Around 81% are full-time jobs, nearly 98% require senior high education or below and  61% do not ask for relevant job experience.   Ms Cu, who was not willing to reveal her full name, is among the job seekers. “ I used to work in the retail industry, but I have been unemployed since the beginning of this year because of  COVID-19,” she said.   Mr Ho, who didn’t provide his first name, also lost his job when the company he worked for downsized during the pandemic. “I used to be a civil engineer, but most of the jobs ( at the fair) are for clerical work, such as office assistants, and I’m not suited for that,” he said. He added that most of the jobs at the fair didn’t require specific knowledge, and he was worried that means he can easily be replaced.   CJ was a …

China’s GDP growth slows to 7.9% in Q2 after strong economic recovery from COVID in Q1

  • 2021-07-15

China’s economic growth slowed to 7.9% in the second quarter year-on-year from a record growth the previous quarter, showing increasingly steady trends in the second-half year, the National Bureau of Statistics of China said on Thursday. The gross domestic product (GDP) figure came in below the median forecast of 8.1%, polled by Reuters, and was lower than the 18.3% year-on-year increase in the first three months of 2021, which was boosted by the low base due to the pandemic. “The country’s economy continues to recover steadily with production and demand picking up, employment and prices remaining stable,” said Liu Aihua, Director of the National Economic Comprehensive Statistics Department of the bureau, at today’s news conference. She said market expectations were positive and major macro indicators were within the reasonable range. Industrial production increased 8.3% year-on-year in June, and 15.9% in the first half of the year compared to the same period last year.  Retail sales rose 12.1% in June from a year earlier and grew by 23% in the January-June period. Fixed-asset investment also grew 12.6% year-on-year in the first half of the year, and the jobless rate decreased 0.5% year-on-year to 5% this June, but Ms Liu predicted at the conference that the rate may increase as an estimated of 9.09 million university graduates would flood into the job market this year. “The pandemic is not yet stable globally, and the recovery of the domestic economy is not yet even,” said Ms Liu at the conference, adding that China's economy would sustain a steady recovery in the second half of the year despite facing such difficulties. She estimated that increasing domestic demands, enhancing market confidence, more policies to help small and medium-sized enterprises, and global economic recovery would further support the economic recovery. The Chinese government announced several measures …

Hong Kong IPO market continues to thrive, ranks top three

  • 2021-06-18

Hong Kong’s initial public offering (IPO) market is expected to raise more than HK$ 400 billion this year and rank third in the global league, with more new economy companies coming to list from Mainland China, according to the National Public Offering Group of Deloitte China. In the first half of this year, 46 IPOs raised a total of about HKD 209.7 billion in Hong Kong, which decreased 22% in the number of new listings but increased 138% in the IPO proceeds compared to that in the same period last year. In general, Hong Kong IPO market performed well in the first half of 2021,” said Edward Au, Deloitte South China Region managing partner. “We are confident that HKEX will get the third place of top global new listing markets in the coming half year and continue its strong performance,” he added. In terms of total proceeds raised, Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange took the lead in the first half year, followed by the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and the Shanghai Stock Exchange. Hong Kong ranked the second largest IPO market in the world in 2020, after Nasdaq, and raised about HK$ 398 billion.  Among the top ten IPOs in the world in the first half of 2021, four were listed in Hong Kong and all of them were innovative and technologies companies, it said. Healthcare and medical industries and property industries continued to dominate Hong Kong’s new listing market. On the first day of trading, the three best performers were from the new economy sector, with two in the health industry and one in TMT, while the three worst performers were from the property sector. “Investors have shown more acceptance for new economy companies, but at the same time, they are less optimistic about traditional and capital-intensive …

Former C.E. says HK “wasted years” in Greater Bay Area

  • 2021-06-15

Former Hong Kong chief executive, Leung Chun-ying has urged students in Hong Kong to be involved in the planning of the Greater Bay area. Speaking at the 2021 China Conference: Hong Kong, Mr. Leung said the city has already wasted years of opportunities because of endless filibustering in Legco, social unrest and the pandemic,    “The window of opportunities for Hong Kong will not be open forever,” Mr. Leung said.    The Conference focuses on economic development in the GBA and Hong Kong and has drawn participants from both sides.   “The good opportunity is about short distances between cities and a comparatively large market,” said Davon Hui Jun-git, founder of a Hong Kong technology startup who developed business both in Hong Kong and Dongguan. He said at the conference that his company attracted many new customers after winning the 2020 Qianhai Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao-Taiwan Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship competition. “We don't even have enough products to actually meet the huge customer demand,” he added.   Hendrick Sin, who founded CMGE, China’s biggest publisher of mobile games, advised new startups in Hong Kong to understand policies in the GBA in order to maximise the support they need. “I think there are lots of office spaces, apartments, tax subsidies to support you,”   However, some Hong Kong entrepreneurs find it difficult to do business in the mainland because of differences in market size, customers’ behaviors and other aspects between Hong Kong and the mainland.   Milktea Wong, a local university student said in a phone interview that she is willing to work in the mainland because there are more job opportunities than in Hong Kong.   But she is concerned about welfare issues in the mainland, such as healthcare insurance. She hoped the government can help to ensure the welfare of Hongkongers …

Vaccine passport scheme appears troublesome in Hong Kong

  • 2021-05-19

The Hong Kong government is now experimenting on vaccine passports, while it is not going too well as the public found it troublesome along with the recent COVID-19 cases spike in Asia. Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said last month that Hong Kong vaccination passports already existed with both electronic and printed versions. Besides a printed version of certification given to those who received two vaccine doses in Hong Kong, an electronic proof of vaccination can also be found by downloading the iAM Smart app.  Even though there is not a globally recognised vaccine passport system yet, getting vaccination is the most effective way to walk out of the pandemic and return to normal activities, Lam said. She also said the record in the mobile application can be used as proof for COVID 19 prevention exemption in the future. The recent government measures include the reopening of bars and relaxing rules on restaurants if workers and customers showed they have taken vaccines.  “I highly doubt the Hong Kong government is able to promulgate and implement a practical vaccination passport,” said Liang Jia, the 30 year mainland citizen who works in Hong Kong and hasn’t vaccinated yet. “The government didn’t do a good job in coronavirus outbreak control and put people’s expectation off again and again in terms of opening the mainland and Hong Kong border,” she said. People’s hope to go back to China or Hong Kong without quarantine was dashed, she added.  There were 30 confirmed COVID-19 cases on April 18, of which 29 cases were imported and the one local case was connected to a patient with the highly infectious N501Y mutant strain. In preventing the spread of mutant coronavirus, the government suspended flights from India, Pakistan and the Philippines for 14 days since there had been …