Shopping in Hong Kong: a different picture
Normally, when the good old shopping season peaks around Christmas, people in HongKong would be expecting shopping malls filled with mainland shoppers splashing out onexpensive items. But this year, Hong Kongers are witnessing something different:mainland tourists who used to chase after designer handbags and luxury watches are nowopening their wallets for more practical stuff, such as articles for daily use.
“Well, I’ve bought discount purses and cosmetics, nothing expensive,” Mr. Li from Beijingsaid after shopping at the Time Square at Causeway Bay, Hong Kong.
Field reporters from the Xinhua News Agency observed only occasional cases whenmainland shoppers queued outside high-end stores in shopping malls like Time Square andHarbour City, whereas they found affordable shops spread all over the Causeway Bay areacrowded with customers from the mainland.
According to Ma Weile, manager for promotion and operation at Hong Kong’s Time Square,majority of mainland consumers now favor brands that are not so expensive.
Business insiders attribute this transformation of shopping behavior to Chinesegovernment’s frugality campaign. In addition, as more travelers from the mainland areallowed to visit Hong Kong as individuals under the Individual Visit Scheme, upscale goodsno longer seem like a privilege.
“Now that more people come to appreciate fair deals, more are buying practical thingsinstead of luxury products”, said Dong Yaozhong, general director of Hong Kong’s TravelIndustry Council.
A 2013 “China luxury goods market study” released by Bain & Company, a US-basedmanagement consulting firm in December argues that Chinese mainland is entering a “newera of luxury cooldown”. The study finds that the growth of mainland’s market for luxurygoods has slowed from 7 percent in 2012 to around 2 percent in 2013, with expectations ofsimilarly slow growth in 2014.
Preliminary statistics released by the Hong Kong Tourism Board show that by November,over 36 million travelers from the mainland had visited Hong Kong. Currently, theIndividual Visit Scheme is applicable to residents from 49 cities on the mainland, anddiversified consumer preferences and capacities are bound to have an impact on theshopping structure.
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