Department stores close as typhoon batters Taiwan (Taiwan News)

Taipei, Aug. 8 (CNA) Department store chains operating in Taiwan announced Saturday that they have suspended business at least for the morning as Typhoon Soudelor brought strong winds and torrential rain across the island. The 8th day of August is Father’s Day in Taiwan, when many families express their thanks to the man of the house with gifts and meals in fancy restaurants. But the inclement weather resulting from the typhoon kept many consumers from going out and has ruined department stores’ hopes that a holiday spree would boost their sales. Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store, one of the largest department store chains in Taiwan, said that its outlets all around the island will remain closed at least until 2 p.m. Their exact business hours for the day will be subject to the weather conditions, the company said. Rival Pacific SOGO Department Store also decided that its outlets around Taiwan will be closed for the morning. The company will announce at noon whether business will resume later in the day. Taipei 101 Tower, the landmark skyscraper in the capital city, has also shut down its shopping center, with its 89th-floor observatory popular among Chinese tourists remaining closed. It said that whether the shopping center will reopen Saturday afternoon will depend on the weather conditions. Meanwhile, Syntrend Creative Park, located in central Taipei, said it will not be open for business Saturday. Syntrend, which is operated by Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (??), has been called Taipei’s Akihabara, featuring dozens of retailers selling high-tech gadgets. In addition to department stores, local restaurants’ business on Father’s Day has been interrupted by the typhoon with many consumers calling in to cancel their reservations. Wowprime Corp. (??), which owns 13 restaurant brands in Taiwan, including the flagship Wang Steak, is one of the victims of the bad weather. Wowprime said that all of its 295 outlets around the island did not open for lunch customers and whether they will be open at dinner time will also depend on how Typhoon Soudelor will move. The eye of Soudelor made landfall in Hualien at 4:40 a.m. Saturday before making its way across the island’s central mountains. The typhoon center exited from Yunlin County around 11 a.m. but strong winds and heavy rain were forecast for southern Taiwan later in the day, the Central Weather Bureau said. (By Tsai Yi-chu, Esme Jiang and Frances Huang)