Rent rise sinks flower market

The Young Reporter (2006, March), 38(06), pp. 3.
Author: Mandy Ho Ching-man. Editor: John Wu Chun-ho.
Permanent URL - https://sys01.lib.hkbu.edu.hk/bujspa/purl.php?&did=bujspa0015606

Mandy Ho Ching-man

The trend of soaring rents has been taking its toll of small businesses, and the latest casualties are found in the Mongkok flower market, a favourite local and international tourist spot.

“My boss told me that the rent has been increased several times,” said Miss Chiu, a florist assistant in the Mongkok flower market. She complained that even they reduced the prices on some flowers during special days like the Valentine's Day, not much business was recorded.

Chong Tai-leung, an economics academic, explained that the landlords have been raising rental levels after Hong Kong's recovery from the SARS attack in 2003. “Small business proprietors would find it most profitable in seasonal occasions, but whether they can sustain the business depends on the costs and rent,” he said.

Mrs Leung, owner of another flower shop, said she could hardly make profit these days. She noted that a number of shops had been evicted by soaring, unaffordable rentals.

“Hong Kong is under a free economic system, the government does not interfere with private businesses. Small proprietors may not hang on if they can not afford the increasing costs. Only the strong would survive under the current circumstances,” added Mr Chong.

Situated along the Flower Market Road and four other narrow streets, linking Mongkok and Prince Edward, the flower market has been there for about 20 years. The aroma of blossoms and the colourful displays arrayed in this distinctive spot now appeared might just vanish.

While this unique marketplace was highly recommended by the Tourism Board, there were no redevelopment or revitalization plans to conserve it.

Meanwhile, shop proprietors believed that the popular flower market could not be easily relocated elsewhere. Some florists remain optimistic. Ms Cheung, a shopkeeper of another flower shop, said the company provided a wide range of products to cater customer needs and to outstand others. It echoed what Mrs Leung said, “The competition here is fierce, but the more competitive, the more challenging it is.”

Edited by John Wu Chun-ho

  • A customer buys flowers in a flower shop in the flower street.