All Popular Bookstores in HK to Close; Also Being Sued for Non-Payment of Rental

Ah, Popular Bookstore, the one stop for all books, stationaries, textbooks and assessment books.

(And tidbits)

I remember when I was younger, I would see many families bringing their children to Popular.

Sadly, this is not the case anymore.

If you were to walk past Popular bookstore now, you would notice that there aren’t many people as there used to be.

Even if you see them, they’re most probably there to wait for someone.

And it’s precisely because of that that…

All Popular Bookstores in HK to Close After Being Sued for Non-Payment of Rental

On Wednesday (18 March), Singapore-based Popular Holdings announced that they will be restructuring by closing down its bookstores in Hong Kong. A total of sixteen branches across the city will be shut down after more than forty years of business.

A spokesman stated that the retail book industry has been facing structural challenges in Hong Kong over the past decade. Hence, it was a difficult decision to make.

The last twelve months has led to a severe contraction in retail revenues. To add on, the high rent and labour costs meant that the company had to struggle in order to continue their business.

In addition, Popular was sued last week for HK$470,000 (S$87k) outstanding rent for its Whampoa Garden branch.

However, the book company said that it would still continue its non-retail business in Hong Kong, with a focus on educational publishing, e-learning, and educational services.

This would not affect the operations here in Singapore. Yet.

A Plummet In Retail Bookstore Market

Hong Kong SME Publications Association’s vice-chairman Jimmy Pang Chi-ming, also head of publishing house Sub-culture, stated that the city’s publishing and bookstore business had been hit hard since the anti-government protests erupted in June last year.

This resulted in a business plummet by up to 80% at the end of last year. Furthermore, the added COVID-19 outbreak caused the business to drop to close to zero.

Just like Singapore, Popular bookstore in Hong Kong has a unique status in the city’s retail market. Unlike other bookstores which cater to adults, Popular bookstores were a great place to hang out with families. It caters to all ages from all walks of life.

Without Popular, Hong Kong will be losing a venue for cultural promotion and alternative reading.

A cultural critic stated that most of the existing bookstores were old-fashioned and out of touch with Hongkongers’ pace of the pursuit of knowledge.

This means that if the remaining bookstores aim to continue their business, they would have to rethink their operating models to survive through this tough period.

While Popular closes down in Hong Kong, Singapore’s Popular bookstore is still around.

But pray tell me, when was the last time you visited Popular in Singapore?

Or to be more specific, when was the last time you bought something there?


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