Retailers, Auction Houses, Tour Operators Rejoice As Mainland Chinese Tourist-Shoppers Spend, Visit In Record Numbers
High-end retailers and auction houses in Hong Kong always look forward to Golden Week, which took place October 1 – 8, and for very good reason. During that week, an influx of mainland Chinese tourist-shoppers flood Hong Kong’s major commercial districts and tourist traps, virtually all with one thing in mind: shopping. As Jing Daily noted last week, the Hong Kong Tourism Board expected record numbers of mainland Chinese tourists to spend a record amount this year, driven primarily by a stronger yuan and visitors shopping for friends and family. According to reports released today, the Tourism Board’s optimism was well-founded: Visitor arrivals from the Mainland jumped 21% to a record-breaking 662,248 over the course of Golden Week, with merchants’ sales rising 30% over last fall.
Although retailers across the board were buoyed by mainland Chinese tourist-shoppers, two of the greatest beneficiaries were luxury watch retailers and auction houses. As Tan Li, Board Secretary of the Chinese high-end watch retailer Hengdeli (previously on Jing Daily) told Bloomberg, Golden Week sales in Hong Kong rose more than 60% over 2009. Emperor Watch Executive Director Henry Chan suggested that the rising spending power of Chinese consumers, and the rising yuan, were key factors in this year’s strong sales figures, saying in an interview, “What [Chinese consumers] pursue in jewelries and watches are no longer middle-priced pieces, but the expensive, sophisticated and limited items.” Added Chan, “Mainland Chinese spending more than HK$1 million on watches today is not something unusual. We sold one or two every day during the Golden Week.”
Sotheby’s also posted record sales during last week’s autumn auctions in Hong Kong, breaking its previous record for a jewelry auction with a $54.5 million sale powered by mainland collectors. Sotheby’s took in more than $400 million across the series, which also included auctions of contemporary Chinese art, fine wine, and rare watches.
The spending power of mainland Chinese tourist-visitors isn’t just helping the bottom line of high-end retailers — it’s improving the overall retail environment as a whole. As Donna Kwok, an HSBC economist, told Bloomberg, “Record mainland visitor arrivals are helping to keep a feel-good factor circulating through Hong Kong. Chinese visitors offer higher-end retail outlets an easier source of demand to tap, spending on average 35% more than their American counterpart.” While this isn’t exactly surprising, since many Chinese tourists spend in Hong Kong to sidestep mainland China’s steep luxury tax, it’s become a key source of reliable income for many of Hong Kong’s top luxury retailers.