Shanghai Has Most Expensive Luxury Costs in Asia for Third Year in a Row

    Even as luxury prices decline, they're still the highest in Shanghai compared to any other city in Asia as mainland China's tariffs continue to have an effect.
    The luxury IFC mall in Shanghai. (Philip Lange/Shutterstock)
    Liz FloraAuthor
      Published   in Retail

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    Despite decisions by many international luxury companies to lower the cost of their goods in mainland China, Shanghai is still Asia’s most expensive city when it comes to luxury this year.

    This is the finding of Julius Baer’s latest report on the cost of living in Asia, which is used by companies in determining salaries for their executives stationed abroad. The Swiss bank’s sixth annual “Lifestyle Index” for Asia surveyed the cost of 20 different luxury items and services reflecting the lives of high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs), comparing them across major Asian cities including Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Taipei, Mumbai, and more. Items surveyed included skincare products, business class flights, residential property, wine, watches, cigars, and jewelry.

    While the costs of many items declined in Shanghai, it still retained its number one spot for the third year in a row on the index. The average cost of goods on the index went down by 0.68 percent year-on-year in local currency overall, and fell by 1.14 percent in China.

    Shanghai was the most expensive city for five items on the list, including hospital stays, watches, botox, cigars, and high-end skin cream, while it was second for the cost of property, wedding banquets, handbags, men’s suits, and women’s shoes. According to the report, China’s high import tariffs played a key role.

    Many items still maintain a high China premium. The selected watch this year, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 40 in yellow gold, was listed at RMB258,000 (US$38,884) for Shanghai, while it would cost more than US$10,000 less at $28,491 in Kuala Lumpur. A 50-ml container of high-end skin cream La Prairie Cellular Cream Platinum Rare is RMB10,200 (US$1,537) in Shanghai, making it $200 more expensive than the average price in other cities.

    One city that declined thanks to Chinese spending habits was Hong Kong, which dropped down from second to third on the list as its luxury retail market struggled thanks to its mainland tourism slump.

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