Wandering on Canton Road, one of the busiest shopping streets in Hong Kong, I heard many dialects from mainland China. Among them the Shanghai dialect stood out the most as I came across small groups of Shanghainese every now and then who flew all the way here to the shopping paradise just for shopping’s sake. Basically I would divide the visitors from mainland into four groups: family, friends, unmarried young couples, and businessmen.
No matter which group they fell into, they had one thing in common that they all had considerable purchasing power as each of them carried several shopping bags of luxury brands, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, and Prada to name just a few. The reason they all flocked to Hong Kong for big brands is rather simple since the prices are much more competitive here than in mainland China. Less tariffs on luxuries and the favorable exchange rate between RMB and HKD is really worth a round trip flight ticket if you decide to make some big purchases. A recent New York Times article highlighted the influx of luxury brands into Asia, especially Hong Kong as they follow potential consumers.
At Harbor City, a shopping mall with a large selection of brands at different levels, I saw a 40 some man visit the French cosmetics store L’Occitane with everything he needed listed on his iPad. He was really in a bustle when he tried to free his hands from all those shopping bags. Thanks to the convenience of iPad, the shop assistant was able to collect all the listed products in a short while and packed them nicely. All the man had to do was to slide his credit card. As he grabbed the huge shopping bag and headed toward another store, one scene popped into my mind in which his wife and daughter type the names of all those lotions, toners, and hand creams into the iPad that seem totally incomprehensible to their husband/father. I felt glad for him because he didn’t need to figure out the different odor of cherry blossom and rose. Somehow I also felt kind of sorry for him because he lost all the funs of shopping, all the comparing and contrasting.
As Prada, Samsonite and L’Occitane all recently got listed on Hong Kong Exchanges, mainlanders will continue to visit Hong Kong, not only for the luxury products but for their attractive stocks as well.