Hong Kong, Jan 3 (IANS) Luxury French fashion house Louis Vuitton has planned to shut one of its eights stores in Hong Kong due to a major plunge in sales at the outlet since the anti-government protests began seven months ago, a media report said on Friday.
According to sources familiar with the matter, the brand has planned to shut its store in the Times Square mall in the shopping district of Causeway Bay, after the mall’s owner refused a request to lower the rent on its prime second-floor space amid the plunging sales, the South China Morning Post said in the report.
Louis Vuitton had previously announced plans to open a ninth store at Hong Kong International Airport in 2021.
Before the protests, a large numbers of shoppers from mainland China would travel to the city to take advantage of lower prices for luxury goods since Hong Kong is a free port and does not impose customs tariffs on imported goods, the report said.
However, as some protesters have turned more violent and anti-China sentiment has increased, Chinese visitors have been shunning Hong Kong.
According to the latest figures released by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, only 2.65 million people visited in November 2019, a decline of 56 per cent from the same period last year.
Retail sales have also plummeted with other international luxury brands including Moncler, Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo. These companies have reported sales declines of up to 45 per cent in Hong Kong during the third quarter that ended on September 30.
LVMH, the multinational luxury goods conglomerate that owns Louis Vuitton, reported a 25 per cent decline in its Hong Kong sales in the same period.
In the report, the South China Morning Post also said that to cope with the poor performance in its overextended Hong Kong retail network, LVMH has temporarily reassigned some sales staff to stores in mainland China, as many Chinese shoppers who used to come to Hong Kong for shopping sprees were now buying luxury goods back home.