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Wednesday, July 17, 2019, 01:31
Sha Tin violence disrupts shop owners
By Kathy Zhang, Li Bingcun and Dai Kaiyi
Wednesday, July 17, 2019, 01:31 By Kathy Zhang, Li Bingcun and Dai Kaiyi

Members of the Federation of Hong Kong Kowloon New Territories Hawker Associations on Tuesday show their support for police officers outside police headquarters in Wan Chai. (CALVIN NG / CHINA DAILY)

HONG KONG-Stunned by the Sunday riot in their neighborhood, shop owners in Sha Tin, one of the most densely populated areas in northern Hong Kong, are still calculating the damage done to their businesses. Many said they had been badly shaken by the violence they witnessed during the riot.

A saleswoman, surnamed Wong, said she was frightened by the stampede when protesters wearing masks appeared outside the dietary supplement store, where she works. The store is near New Town Plaza, the epicenter of the clash between rioters and police.

Many neighboring shops had to shut down for the day, and her store, like many others, did not do much business that day, she explained.

“We lost up to HK$6,000 ($768) in the past two days,” Wong said.

An owner of a food store at the Sha Tin MTR station also complained about business losses as people tried to avoid places where violence broke out on Sunday night.

She asked for anonymity in fear of retaliation from rioters, and said revenues had dropped HK$8,000 in the past two days, equivalent to half of daily earnings. This woman does not expect things will return to normal soon because the riot had deeply affected people in the area.

She said some shop keepers might have to consider letting some staff go to reduce financial losses.

A jewelry shop keeper, who has worked for more than 30 years in Shatin Centre, a shopping mall adjacent to New Town Plaza, told China Daily he and his colleagues were still vigilant following Sunday’s violence. He also asked if he could only be quoted anonymously due to safety concerns.

His shop closed about 4 pm on Sunday, five hours before its regular closing time. Business has dwindled by one-third since mid-June when social unrest began to spread from one district to another.

According to an estimate by Hong Kong Retail Management Association, retail sales could suffer a double-digit drop if large-scale protests continue.

The city’s retail sales have been declining for four straight months; during the first five months, they fell 1.8 percent year on year, government data showed.

The shop keeper said he hoped young radicals could focus more on academic studies and career development in a rational manner.

“You are qualified to discuss society’s problems only if you are able to solve your own,” he remarked.

He also urged the government to create more opportunities for young people to climb the social ladder. This would help to ease their discontent and avoid future protests, he added.

kathyzhang@chinadailyhk.com


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