Sat, Apr 21, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Leisure industry suffers as consumers save money

By Wang Yi-hung and Chang Hui-wen  /  Staff reporters

An empty shopping center is seen in Taipei yesterday. The recent increase in the costs of fuel and electricity has started to affect household spending and less people are going shopping now.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

The rise in petroleum-based fuel and electricity prices is not only going to lead to an increase in consumer-goods prices, but are also causing people to cut back on expenses. This has led to plummeting demand in the leisure industry and associated businesses, such as buffets and afternoon-tea packages offered at hotel restaurants.

According to hoteliers, hotels have also fallen victim to the spike in electricity, fuel and consumer-goods prices, adding that with the decrease in customer numbers, they do not know how they are going to get through the bad patch.

The amount of money customers spent in hotels this month was within the normal range, but since mid-April they have seen a decrease of about 10 percent, hoteliers said. They added that it remains to be seen whether the situation would deteriorate further.

“We just hope that the main reason for less customers coming to hotels is that the recent dip in the stock market has put a strain on their wallets, or else the hotel business is looking at really grim times,” a hotelier said.

Meanwhile, the increase in prices of consumer goods has first and foremost had an impact on the recreation industry.

KTV businesses, usually the merrier the later it gets, have recently seen a drop in crowds. Some frequent customers have also said that “with everything on the rise, we’re saving everything we can.”

“We used to go to the KTV once a week, but now we’re thinking of going once every two weeks or once a month,” another said.

Netizens have also been complaining that everything in their budget would have to be cut, ranging from taking taxis and going out with friends, to clubbing and buying new cellphones, computer games or online gaming credits.

Some netizens half-jokingly said that they would now really have to learn to write down their daily expenses, while others complained that the government’s tips on saving energy were not really useful, because the electricity price was not the only thing that was going up.

According to polls conducted in 2007, when the nation faced the same problem of soaring consumer-goods prices, the average household’s first reaction was to cut back on recreation spending.

Translated by Jake Chung, Staff Writer

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