HONG KONG: Advertising expenditure in Hong Kong rose 8% during August, with spending on campaigns for mooncakes, the traditional delicacy of the Mid-Autumn Festival, up an estimated 43%, new figures have shown.

Data from media spending analyst admanGo, reported in the South China Morning Post, indicated that adspend reached HK$3.61m, with advertising on mooncakes amounting to HK$63m.

"Mooncake brands advertised aggressively this year," noted admanGo, although most of the month's increase was attributable to marketing campaigns from banking and investment services, cosmetics and skincare, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, toiletries and household, and beverage industries.

Paid newspapers took a 16% share of Hong Kong's total advertising spending last month, behind television's 30%, but certain sectors, including sports, car and petroleum, restaurant, beverage and insurance, preferred paid newspapers for their campaigns.

In mainland China, however, the holiday picture was more gloomy. Sales of mooncakes, for example, fared worse as press agency Xinhua noted that the more upmarket versions had become "less of a food and more of a tool to bribe officials or business partners".

But with the government's crackdown on corruption, including a specific instruction to cut back on giving gifts or holding banquets using public funds around festivals, sales have dropped dramatically.

For example, Chaoshifa, a major supermarket chain in Beijing, saw a 60% year-on-year decline in group buying of packaged mooncake by companies, government agencies or other organizations, according to figures released by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Commerce.

And in Qingdao, a major seaside holiday destination in northern China, China Economic Review related how the consumption for moon cakes, cigarettes and spirits fell by 10% compared to last year.

The upcoming Golden Week holiday, starting on October 1 is unlikely to bring much relief to retailers or tour operators, as the government has banned "forced shopping", whereby tour operators are able to offer cheap package deals while collecting commissions from the shops they take tour groups to.

As a result tour group numbers to Hong Kong from mainland China are expected to fall by as much as 30%.

Data sourced from South China Morning Post, Xinhua, China Economic Review; additional content by Warc staff