Thu, Jul 03, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Government helps resuscitate injured Wanhua business

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

To revive businesses clobbered by the SARS outbreak in Taipei's Wanhua District, the Ministry of Economic Affairs announced yesterday that a clothing promotion will kick off this weekend on the area's Tali Street.

The event -- dubbed the "Clothing Carnival" -- will feature over 300 clothing retailers offering big discounts. A variety of additional activities are planned in the area, including prize drawings, live concerts and a watermelon-eating contest.

"I hope the big sales and giveaways will attract consumers nationwide back to one of Taiwan's biggest clothing centers," director general of the ministry's department of commerce Liu Kun-tang (劉坤堂) said.

Wanhua business slumped by 95 percent after the fatal SARS virus erupted in Hoping Hospital and later infected the nearby Hwa Chang Public Housing Complex (華昌國宅) in early May, putting over three hundred residents into home quarantine, Liu said.

Several decades ago, the Tali Street area was Taiwan's biggest ready-to-wear retail and wholesale hub. SARS-related losses on clothing industries in the district from late April to late May were about NT$20 million, Liu said.

One Wanhua clothing retailer pointed out that the media's exaggerated coverage of SARS running rampant in the area also contributed to the disastrous decline in business.

"Under the weight of excessive media reports, many people bypassed the area," said Lin Chin (林錦), chairwoman of an association created to promote the clothing business in Wanhua.

The news reports brought business to a standstill.

"Many of our retailers just shuttered their stores during the SARS-hit period," Lin said.

Although SARS has been under control since late May, Wanhua's clothing business has barely recovered to what it was before SARS, Lin said.

Another committee member said he expects the promotion will help neighborhood businesses.

"Since shoppers have flocked back to Sogo ... they should no longer be afraid to come back here," said Hsu Wen-hui (許文輝),a Wanhua stationary store owner.

The event will run from 10am to 8pm on Saturday, and 11am to 6pm on Sunday.

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