Good appetite for dining out
The food and beverage (F&B) industry will remain robust. Almost everyone likes eating out and Hong Kong people are generally in the habit of dining out.
The Census and Statistics Department says the total value of restaurant-sector receipts was HK$23.4 billion in the first quarter of 2012, up 6 per cent on 2011. Total receipts of Chinese restaurants rose 5.1 per cent in value in the first quarter of 2012 compared with a year earlier. In the same period, total bar receipts rose 4.4 per cent, and those of non-Chinese restaurants by 4.2 per cent.
A local fast-food chain shop has said that its net profit last year rose to HK$700 million. The company intends to open 20 more shops this year and hire around 800 to 1,000 new staff.
Before the minimum-wage law came into being, people in the industry were worried that it would force the closure of many restaurants, especially small ones. However, more than a year on, their fears have proved groundless. In fact, workers such as dishwashers, who before were generally low-paid, now earn more - although, given the high inflation rate, their purchasing power has not increased much.
F&B's prospects next year depend on external factors, such as the European debt crisis. If it worsens, the sector will be affected to some extent, as tourism will also be hurt.
Yuen Fuk-wo, chairman, Eating Establishment Employees General Union
As told to Chiu Po-sze