Apple closed its retail stores in Hong Kong early on Monday as pro-democracy protests throughout the city continued to intensify.
The early closures, which were first reported by The Wall Street Journal, come after protests taking place in Hong Kong on Sunday night turned violent, with police using tear gas and rubber bullets on the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators after the Chinese government’s liaison office in Hong Kong was vandalized. Following the march, a group of assailants was videotaped attacking subway passengers with batons and other weapons.
The hours listed on Apple’s website for its Hong Kong locations are listed as “special store hours,” with locations closing at 16:00, or 4 p.m., rather than typical Monday closing hours that could range between 21:00 and 23:00, or 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.
The protests, which have been ongoing for seven consecutive weekends, were sparked by a proposal that would enable China to extradite Hong Kong residents for criminal trials. The Hong Kong government has condemned the violent actions taken by both police and demonstrators in statements, according to The Guardian. “The [government] strongly condemns any violence and will seriously take enforcement actions,” the government said.
Apple is not the only company to adjust its operations following Sunday’s events. Estée Lauder and Abercrombie & Fitch’s Hollister also told employees to leave early, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Apple’s growing presence in Hong Kong
Apple opened its first retail store in Hong Kong back in 2011 and now operates six stores in the region. It opened its sixth location in Hong Kong in 2016, as MacRumors reported at the time, which is located in the Kwun Tong district.
The greater China region is important for Apple considering it’s the company’s third-largest market. Apple lowered its guidance for its fiscal first quarter of 2019 back in January largely because of challenges in greater China, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan in addition to mainland China.
But that began to rebound somewhat in the second quarter of 2019. Although sales were down by 22% from the same period a year earlier in that region, it was still an improvement from the holiday quarter when sales were down by 27% year-over-year.