Voucher plan draws mixed responses from small vendors

The government’s voucher scheme has drawn mixed responses from small businesses on the first day of its launch, with some remaining doubtful about its effectiveness and others saying it would likely boost sales.

The owner of a children’s outfitter in North Point, surnamed Lam, told RTHK on Sunday that she doesn’t think the voucher scheme would boost sales.

She said she had tried to apply to get an Octopus card reader installed at her store more than a month ago knowing that there’s a voucher scheme coming up, but the Octopus company came back telling her it was too busy handling other requests at the time.

Lam said even though her store does accept other e-payments like Alipay, it’s not a popular payment method among her target customers.

“No one uses Alipay to buy things here,” she said.

“It’s mostly young people who use [Alipay]. Older people tend to use the Octopus card. And our clothes are mostly sold to older customers. Because young people often buy things online. We cannot benefit [from the scheme].”

Leung, a vendor selling handbags and suit cases in the area, said business had been bad during the pandemic and she doesn’t think the voucher scheme would provide much help.

“It may help just a little,” she said, adding that business is just as bad on Sunday as any other days.

But some are sounding a more optimistic note.

Sandy, the owner of a cha chaan teng, said she’s already seen more customers using e-payment methods to settle their bills on Sunday morning.

She said around 70 percent of customers paid via Octopus card or Alipay – around 20 percent more than on usual days.

She believes the scheme will boost revenue by around 10 to 20 percent this month.

“I think people would tend to spend the money on their meals. If it was cash, people could use the money in whatever ways they want. Now if restaurants like ours have installed the e-payment systems, people would tend to spend the vouchers here.”

The Chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Restaurants, Simon Wong, echoed the optimism.

With the help of the scheme, he said the local catering may be able to recover a loss of up to HK$30 billion from the pandemic.

“I expect about one-third of the total amount [of the vouchers] would go to the restaurant business. When you see that the total voucher scheme is likely to be HK$36 billion … we will get about HK$12 billion,” he said.

“On top of that, we would expect Hong Kong people to spend more to leverage out the spending. If we conservatively expect another 30 percent of the spending, that means the total spending of the restaurants would be HK$15 billion in the coming four to six months.”
Last updated: 2021-08-02 HKT 17:35