Shopping in Hong Kong
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In the early Colonial Hong Kong period, the territory served as a middleman that sold far more than it consumed. Goods were largely sold via mobile hawker units or independent shops, with the majority of trade, utilities, shipping and manufacturing handled by the Hongs. The establishment of banks and deposit institutions allowed people to accumulate savings, and expand their personal finances.
With significant manufacturing outputs, the economy turned around in the 1960s, setting the mall trends in motion. One of the first modern shopping centres was Ocean Terminal. Daimaru opened the flood gate of Japanese goods to Hong Kong in 1966. Deng Xiaoping's 1978 Open Door Policy also made Hong Kong the definitive gateway to China. The people's mindset then begin to change from buying necessities to buying luxury goods.
Food and clothing supplies were always available for sale, but complex goods did not come about until the arrival of the major brand name franchises. In the 1970s and 1980s, items like air conditioners, fans and refrigerators were popular items that eased the hot climate. Major increases in consumer spending continued, due to the period of explosive economic growth.
In the late 1970s, one of the first modern shopping development was The Landmark in Central above the MTR station. In 1984, Cityplaza in Taikoo Shing was also redeveloped. A large architectural project at the time was also to connect Ocean Centre to the Harbour City shopping mall in Tsim Sha Tsui. The large mall construction movement continued into the 1990s with Pacific Place, Dragon Centre, Time Square, Plaza Hollywood and Festival Walk. Developments also expanded into the New Territories.
Ethnic food ranges from Mexican flavors to Indian dishes. The Soho district in Central is the center for Western foods. Traditional Chinese cuisines, ranging from Shanghainese, Hainanese to Cantonese restaurants are also located everywhere. Street food vendors selling local snacks, such as dumplings with fish meat and snake soup bowl, can be found in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay.
Custom tailoring is also popular and affordable in Hong Kong. The customer can draw out a design for clothing and have it made in a few days. Electronics from Japan and Europe are available. A place for shopping for these appliances would be in Apliu Street and the Golden Shopping Center in Sham Shui Po. There are computer appliances centers in Wan Chai and Mong Kok.
A Japanese pop culture has become prevalent in Hong Kong Shopping. Japanese department stores have opened in Hong Kong, such as Sogo, Yata, and Muji. Japanese clothing brands, like Swordfish, Moussy, and Uniqlo, have started flagship stores in the city. If looking for a bargain in clothing and accessories, the Lady’s Street and Fa Yuen Street in Mong Kok or Jardine’s Crescent in Causeway Bay are good places to visit.
- Antiques - Upper Lascar Row, Hollywood Road
- Video games - Wan Chai, Sham Shui Po
- Computers - Wan Chai, Sham Shui Po, Tsim Sha Tsui, Causeway Bay, Kowloon
- Modern fashion - Time Square, IFC, Elements
- Leather goods - Tsim Sha Tsui
- Fortune advice - Wong Tai Sin Temple
- Japanese items - Sogo
- Bargain - Stanley, Shenzhen
- Cars - Gloucester Road, Hong Kong
Speciality local stores
- Arome Bakery - bakery chain store
- c!ty'super - supermarket and lifestyle
- Commercial Press - book store chain
- Goods of Desire (G.O.D.) - lifestyle retail store
- Giordano - retail clothing store
- Joint Publishing - book store chain
- ParknShop - supermarkets
- Religious goods store
- Sincere Department Store
- Watson's - pharmactical, health and beauty chain store
- Wellcome - supermarkets
- Wing On - department chain store
- Yu Kee Food - chain supermarkets
Basic items for sale do not draw any duties, sales tax or import tax. Only specific import goods such as alcohol, tobacco, perfumes, cosmetics, cars and petroleum products have associated taxes. For companies, there is a 17.5% corporate tax, which is lower than international standards.
Its proximity to the manufacturing plants in China as well as being a free port provide the territory with significant advantages. Large quantities of goods are manufactured and transported from and to Hong Kong. Imports from Europe, Japan, the United States and Taiwan add international flavour to the mix.
Businesses do not always cater to high-end customers, as plenty of bargains attract regular shoppers. Transportation eases the shopping experience, as the MTR subway and an effective taxi service allow anyone to get around without geographical knowledge.
Hong Kong is unique in the sense that the population is fully engaged in two languages so the territory is capable of communicating with eastern or western shoppers. Hong Kong, Macau, and India are the only regions on the GDP per capita top 50 list with a 50% stake in two very different language families. The law also guarantees that both Cantonese and English remain the official languages, so bilingual sales tags and sales people are common, especially in the areas frequented by tourists.
Cultural openness is also an important factor, as Hong Kong is receptive toward selling merchandise regardless of the origin. The government believes in a hands-off policy, and does not censor, restrict or modify. An example is authentic looking toy guns.
In the mix of competition, Hong Kong has a reputation for selling counterfeits and fakes. Items from bootleg CDs, clothing brands, watches to software have been forged. The Hong Kong Tourism Board has introduced a plan to identify shops that offer a reliable service, via a 300-page book called "A Guide to Quality Shops and Restaurants". Divisions like ICAC have also taken part in the anti-corruption process.
Hong Kong is also known for its tourist traps where shops deploy tactics such as "bait-and-switch" to cheat tourists. This is where a very attractive price is given for a product and once the tourist pays, she/he is told that either the product is out-of-stock or that it doesn’t include all the accessories, such as the battery charger, connection cords, etc., that it is supposed to include. A substituted product would then be proposed at the same price when the substituted product is in fact an inferior and a much cheaper product. Shops with bright neon lights displaying only famous brands such as Canon, Nikon, Nokia, etc., as their shop name, often deploy this tactic so it is best to avoid these shops.
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- The Tailors of Hong Kong
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