BEIJING–Typhoon Manghut lashed southern China and the Philippines on Sunday, even turning deadly, although urban areas were generally well insulated, and by Monday retailers were minimally impacted by store and office closures.
Packing winds of up to 157 mph, equivalent to a category 5 Atlantic hurricane, the typhoon’s worst hit areas were rural regions in the Philippines. Government officials reported at least 54 people had died, dozens more missing and over 250,000 evacuated, with the full extent of the damage still being assessed. Metro Manila was hit with flooding.
On Monday in Hong Kong, the city’s observatory lowered its warning down from Typhoon Signal No. 10, the highest on its scale, allowing businesses to resume although schools were out for the day. Still, the observatory warned that “members of the public should remain on the alert. The Strong Wind Signal, No. 3 will remain in force for a period of time.”
After city-wide closures on Sunday, most retailers opened for regular trading hours on Monday although some played it cautious, waiting until the afternoon to open stores and office spaces.
The Lane Crawford Joyce Group advised its Hong Kong staff to stay home on Monday after the floor to glass walls at One Island South, which houses its headquarters, smashed the day before allowing water to leak into the lobby. The tower is also home to brands including Christian Louboutin.
The internal memo said: “As we all know, Typhoon Mangkhut has impacted Hong Kong quite badly in the past hours. To ensure the safety of our staff and our customers, all office staff please work from home tomorrow – Sept 17th, 2018, unless for individuals who are required to report duty for disaster recovery work.”
“Lane Crawford has decided to open our stores at 2pm tentatively, subject to further evaluation and assessment of the store circumstances. Necessary maintenance will be carried out in the morning. The final arrangement will be confirmed by 11am latest. The store arrangement will also apply to our warehouse.”
Numerous videos of swaying apartment buildings across Hong Kong were widely circulated on social media, along with street-level flooding.
“Our flat has been swaying for over six hours now. With leaks and wind coming in the rooms…It’s like being on a boat,” said one Hong Kong resident earlier.
“Made me feel dizzy and nauseous,” said another whose Midlevels apartment block lurched in the storm for “at least four hours, maybe more.”
The IFC complex in Central sustained some damage to the windows as well, however, it didn’t appear to affect the mall’s trading hours too significantly.
“Most of the shops are open now but some of them will open at 2pm,” the concierge desk at IFC mall said. “Giorgio Armani, YSL, Kiehl’s, Diesel, Atelier Cologne, Lane Crawford will open at 2pm.”
Likewise, Landmark Atrium said its anchor tenants–Dior, Celine–had opened with regular trading hours but some smaller shops such as Aveda and Isaia would open only in the afternoon.
To retailers’ relief, the typhoon struck in advance of two upcoming Chinese holidays–a long weekend for mid-autumn festival which begins on Sep. 22, and China’s National Holiday, which falls a week after that. The latter is when Mainland China has a week off and is a critical traveling and spending period for the industry.