|Old Flower market: flower sellers turn to vegetable sales to ride out the financial crisis|
|Written by Shi Fenglei|
|Tuesday, 09 December 2008|
Page 1 of 3
At eight o'clock in the evening, Sakina Mok closes her flower shop, one hour earlier than months ago, leaving in the darkness an account book suggesting another day of dull sale and an ocean of languishing flowers.
Sakina's family has been running flower shops in Hong Kong's largest and arguably oldest flower fair, Flower Market Street, Mong Kok for more than four decades. This year, with Christmas one month away, normally the beginning of best season for flower sales, she felt unprecedented pressure.
"I dare say our business is in the lowest point now. Sales have dropped by half; Even the 1997 financial crisis and SARS have not cast such a negative impact on us," she said.
(Translation for audio: Business can not be compared with what it is like before. Sales have dropped by half. Even when SARS stroke Hong Kong, business was not as severely hurt as it is today. Today is Saturday, and it is just in the middle of the month, not at the end of the month. But you see? No one is buying flowers. Surely, we have experienced how the financial crisis was influencing the economy in the old days (in 1997), but now the situation is much worse.)
Sakina is not the only one among the hundreds of shopkeepers in Hong Kong's Flower Market who is hurt by the depressed flower industry. Within walking distance, some flower shops have already began selling vegetables on the street once featuring bright and colorful, sweet-scented flowers.
"Business is bad so we have to sell vegetables or we won't be able to pay the rent at about 50,000 to 60,000 HK dollars per year.” says Wen Haimei, a mainland shop assistant with Chen Wah Flower Shop, one of the shops that began selling vegetables.
(Translation for audio: Business is bad so we have to sell vegetables or we won't be able to pay the rent, which is very expensive. People won't buy flowers. You see? A lot of people pass by, but none would stop for some flowers. So we have to sell vegetables to help with the business and pay the rent at about 50,000 to 60,000 HK dollars per year.)
(Translation for audio: Since this July we began to sell vegetables and fruits, because flower business is no longer profitable. If we only rely on flowers, we will even have difficulty to cover the rent. So we are selling whatever that makes money. It depends. )
According to a report from Thompson Reuters, with continuing devaluation of the US dollar, by this June, Hong Kong's Purchasing Management Index, or PMI, an indicator of company performance in the private sector, had remain less than 51 for three consecutive monthes, while a PMI at 50 is the benchmark between growth and decline in the private sector - a ominous sign of an incoming financial crisis.
|Last Updated ( Monday, 15 December 2008 )|
|Customs and Cultures|
|Buildings & Monuments|
|Politics & Government|
|Hong Kong's Identity|
|Arts & Culture|