HONG KONG: As the spread of coronavirus sends jitters across Hong Kong, usually bustling shopping malls, restaurants and retailers are deserted, leaving some small business owners contemplating their future in the global financial hub.

While Hong Kong's retail sales extended their free-fall in December as months of sometimes violent anti-government protests took a heavy toll, fears over the virus and government advice for people to stay at home are piling on even more pressure.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Lin Chan, 30, a beauty salon entrepreneur, told Reuters footfall in her eyebrow-shaping salon is down nearly 70 per cent.

"For us doing eyebrow trimming, the distance from the customers is very small," Chan said.

"A lot of customers will cancel their bookings."

READ: Hong Kong reports first coronavirus death

Advertisement

Advertisement

READ: Hong Kong evacuates residential building where two coronavirus patients live

In a bid to retain customers, Chan is offering a free face mask and packs of disinfectant hand wipes as a gift to customers when they finish their treatment – quite a treat in a city where panic buying for such items has left shop shelves empty.

Wu Ji, 38, who runs the eponymous Wu Ji Workshop Co that specialises in carpets for automotive vehicles and employs more than 10 people in Hong Kong and mainland China, is also feeling the pain.

"All of our carpets get produced in the mainland and then shipped to Hong Kong for installation," he told Reuters. "If the source of your products is closed off, the entire supply chain is already broken."

FILE PHOTO: People wear protective masks as they wait to cross the street, following the outbreak of the new coronavirus, in Hong Kong, China Feb 10, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Tyrone Siu)

The Hong Kong government has shut 10 border checkpoints with mainland China but stopped short of a complete closure.

Wu, who sells his carpets wholesale as well as directly to car owners, considers himself lucky that revenue is only down 30 per cent, when some businesses nearby have already shut up shop.

"If the situation continues for more than a month, we will be entirely out of stock," he said.

READ: Thousands from cruise ship in Hong Kong freed after novel coronavirus tests

READ: Hong Kong declares Wuhan virus outbreak an 'emergency'

While Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has said closing the entire border would be inapproprRead More – Source