Week-Long Holiday Occurs Twice A Year, In February And October
China is in the midst of its second “Golden Week” of the year, which for high-end retailers in Hong Kong translates to throngs of tourist-shoppers from mainland China. This week, the Hong Kong Tourism Board expects around 760,000 mainland tourists to visit the city, a rise of 30% over last year, and many of these visitors are coming with only one thing in mind: high-end, tax-free shopping. As Hong Kong’s Standard reported yesterday, the World Trade Centre in Causeway Bay — a popular spot for Golden Week shoppers — estimates a 27% increase in business over last year to HK$16.5 million (US$2.1 million) and a 22% rise in shoppers to 550,000.
According to another store manager, Chinese tourists have been spending an average of HK$10,000 per person, a rise of about 50% over last year. As one shopper from Inner Mongolia told the newspaper, much of the rise in per capita spending can be attributed to the relatively stronger yuan, a factor that has also enticed Chinese tourists to increasingly venture to Europe and North America this year.
The Chinese-language news portal NetEase points out today that mainland Chinese shoppers have been lining up outside of Louis Vuitton shops in Hong Kong this week, likely in the hopes of getting their LV bags before the brand raises prices nearly 10% this winter. For many Hong Kong retailers, Golden Week is a time to clean house, as “hawks” (a play on the Mandarin hao ke, or “luxury tourists”) reluctant to pay the Mainland’s stiff luxury tax clear the racks of inventory.
From NetEase (translation by Jing Daily team):
One tourist said that Hong Kong has greater brand selection and better quality items [than the Mainland], and coupled with a rising yuan, shopping in Hong Kong is like an instant 20% discount, making it much more affordable. Shop owners too are taking advantage of this “Golden Week money.” As the owners of jewelry and watch shops told us, mainland Chinese “hawks” are spending upwards of 50,000-60,000 yuan (US$7,500-9,000) each. Figures suggest that Golden Week spending growth may be in the double digits this year.
A visitor from Beijing, Mr. Peng, said he plans to stay in Hong Kong for five days during the Golden Week holiday. He said he bought two watches yesterday, spending a total of more than 40,000 yuan (US$6,000). He said that Hong Kong has more famous brands and greater selection [than Beijing], with some styles not available in mainland China. All told, he plans to spend around 100,000 yuan (US$15,000) on his trip to Hong Kong.
Ms. Hua, from Shanghai, said she arrived in Hong Kong yesterday with her family, and plans to celebrate Golden Week here with tourism and shopping. She said that Hong Kong has a lot of large shopping malls, and in Hong Kong she can buy famous brands tax-free, making it cheaper than shopping at home. Ms. Hua expects to mostly shop for gold jewelry, and expects to spend anywhere from 30,000-50,000 yuan. She also plans to do some sightseeing with her family, and hopes to get out of Hong Kong Island to try some of the area’s famous seafood.
One watch store manager said that consumption among mainland Chinese tourist-shoppers is particularly extravagant. They’re mad for brands like Omega and Rolex, and care more about style than price. The manager said that Chinese tourists are accustomed to spending more than 10,000 yuan each during Golden Week, and it’s not uncommon to see some high-rollers dropping more than 100,000 yuan on a single trip.
The store manager added that mainland Chinese tourists currently account for around 70-80% of his store’s business. As such, every store employee must understand Mandarin in order to facilitate customer service.