At a time of so much mayhem and misery in the world, we must seek solace in heart-warming stories that offer mankind a few glimmers of joy and hope. And what better boost to our spirits than the sight of the Hong Kong ‘retail sector’ collapsing to its knees, clutching its throat, gurgling and howling and haemorrhaging blood?
A quick word on definitions: the ‘retail sector’ is not to be confused with what most of us call ‘shops’, which are local businesses selling affordable, useful things to local people. For a decade, Hong Kong residents have been suffering inconvenience and cost as their traditional ‘shops’ have been displaced by overpriced luxury-garbage outlets catering to floods of gullible or money-laundering Mainland visitors. Thanks to economic trends and Beijing’s anti-corruption drive, the ‘high-end’ Mainland-shopper deluge has finally peaked – but not before smothering whole neighbourhoods with multiple gold, cosmetics, watch and medicine stores. We must now endure the self-pitying whining of tourism/landlord ‘retail’ interests as they realize they have overextended themselves like bloated greedy pigs at a buffet who have stuffed their fat, sweaty faces with ketchup-laden oysters. (Chow Tai Fook’s store locator returns an incredible 90 branches in Hong Kong alone.)
Over the last year, the ‘retail sector’ has warned of terrible calamities as their sales have slowed and even retreated. Lacking the honesty and manliness to blame Chinese leader Xi Jinping for unhelpful policies – or themselves for their own short-sighted gluttony – they ranted at Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protestors and community-defending localists. In an attempt to rally public opinion against the opposition, our deluded government actually urged us to believe that the Umbrella kids had vandalized our precious ‘retail sector’, then acted all surprised and hurt when grateful voters rewarded the aforementioned kids accordingly at the recent District elections.
The whole Mainland-tourist/retail thing is essentially about hiking rents to benefit the usual landed interests. Having bid rentals up in their lust for outlets, the luxury-crap merchants are now wetting themselves about the curse of… high rents. Apparently expecting sympathy from the public, they instead get chortles, mockery and best wishes for a speedy demise. This highly amusing and hope-inspiring trend shows no sign of ending soon.
Today’s retail massacre bloodbath doom story is Burger King, whose small Hong Kong network seems to be mostly shutting down in a ‘retail exodus’, or as a wordier headline would put it, ‘you might get some of your old shops back’.
There is probably a business-school case-study here, concerning the pointlessness of trying to win market share from McDonalds by offering a slightly classier and pricier variety of disgusting greasy slop aimed at children, maids and the indigent. But the chain seems also to be suffering the side-effects of the last few years’ spiraling rents, and we are informed that shops selling watches, handbags, medicine and beef jerky are dying similar horrible deaths. It’s not often that a mention of ‘Burger King, medicine and beef jerky’ makes your mouth water – but now it happens. More, please.