While Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement demonstrators are as pro-business as they are pro-democracy, local merchants said Thursday the protests that entered their sixth day are driving sales and customer traffic down. The disruption of local commerce that depends on wealthy visitors from the mainland is causing ambivalence among some business owners.
“We’ve lost 20 percent to 30 percent of our sales so far this week,” William Yan, manager of a Causeway Bay shopping district Rolex watch outlet, told Time magazine. “I hope the protests finish soon.”
Beijing’s China National Tourism Administration has ordered a temporary suspension of tour groups to Hong Kong, which is expected to cause a more noticeable drop in tourism traffic beginning next week, according to the South China Morning Post. Mainland tourists make up three-fourths of all Hong Kong visitors, many of whom come to spend money on luxury goods, like the ones offered by Wan’s high-end retail business. Some shops have opted to close this week.
Hong Kong’s National Day celebrations, typically an annual windfall for local businesses, were the most subdued since Hong Kong returned to China’s fold in 1997 as a Special Administrative Region.
But not all businesses are hoping things return to normal. Some shops have decorated their windows with the yellow ribbons of the democracy movement, which is demanding greater say on how Hong Kong’s leaders are picked. Demonstrators oppose China’s plan to vet all candidates for the 2017 elections and are threatening to occupy government buildings if Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying doesn’t resign by Thursday night local time.
Thousands of activists gathered outside Leung’s office overnight, Agence France-Presse reported. Police were seen collecting around government buildings in response to the threats.
Local fruit wholesaler Cheung Chi-cheung told the South China Morning Post that protestors have asked him to tolerate the demonstrations “for the sake of the future.” But when it comes to the present, Cheung said of his business: “I am not sure if I can survive this now.”