There seems to be no signs of recovery in Hong Kong’s retail sector. Consumer sentiment and disappearing visitor numbers have led to the 16th consecutive month of declining retail sales.
According to Randstad, recent statistics are a clear indicator, year-on-year, retail sales have dropped 13% and tourism numbers from Mainland China have gone down by 18%. Watches and jewelry, popular items with affluent Chinese tourists, are facing a decline of 24%.
Despite the bleak outlook for the retail landscape, a new opportunity has presented itself to overseas fast fashion and mid-priced brands. With shop rents down an average of 25%, these new fashion houses are leveraging the low cost to enter or expand their operations in Hong Kong, a tactic that was previously very cost-prohibitive.
Small companies have also made moves to test new waters through this new trend by testing the marketplace with pop-ups stores, which have been gaining in popularity over the past year. Historically, not quite so popular, pop-ups are gaining recognition by smaller brands as a good way to drive awareness as well as test the viability of longer term arrangements.
Midst of an adaptation
“We’re currently in the midst of an adaptation of the retail landscape,” notes Paul Shelton, Director for Sales & Marketing, Supply Chain & Procurement and Construction, Property & Engineering, Randstad Hong Kong. “No longer are big name retail brands dominating the market, the current slump has allowed smaller players to emerge and innovate.”
“With this opportunity for smaller organizations to stretch their legs, it will be interesting to see how the retail landscape will change in the longer term as small to medium retail companies compete with the larger organizations on a more level playing field,” added Shelton.
With the changing retail landscape as well as the increasing speed of change and variance of consumer tastes, Senior Merchandisers have emerged as sought-after candidates. Retail organizations have a growing need for experienced Merchandisers who are able to select the right products and adapting product line ups to suit the fast changing consumer demands.
Sights set on e-commerce
Retail organizations have clearly understood the need to move onto digital platforms. Key players are making moves and scrambling to implement new e-commerce platforms to complement their business strategies. Digital skills have become highly sought-after and the rush for candidates with digital and analytical experience has led to a large talent gap.
E-commerce focused organizations have continued to take market share from traditional retailers who have failed to implement their own digital strategies. Traditional retailers, who have recognized the gap have started seeking candidates with experience supporting and managing the implementation of e-commerce platforms.
With the sharpened focus on e-commerce from new and traditional retail players, digital marketing skills are also increasingly in-demand.