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For expats, going to Hong Kong is an opportunity to bring back products you can't get in China or that cost more in China. China has still has high tax and tariff barriers that make shopping in Hong Kong quite attractive for expats living in China.
Hong Kong has a duty free import policy, so it is an excellent place to get foreign-made products. Its low taxes helps to keep prices low as does the plethora of competitive shopping areas for everything from luxury products to street market goods.
Though Chinese-made products might cost about the same, Chinese themselves often go to Hong Kong to shop for Chinese made goods such as electronics because of better warranties, service, and return policies.
There are numerous things expats might want to buy and bring back in 2019 during your trip to Hong Kong such as primarily foreign made luxury goods, electronics, clothing and foods, American products, custom tailored clothing, and special Hong Kong foods.
Take note expats in China: Hong Kong isn't as attractive a shopping place as it was years ago. If you are shopping for luxury items or things manufactured in Korea or Japan such as a Samsung smartphone, you might get a better deal in Korea or Japan.
High rent and real estate prices in 2019 are forcing up retail prices in shops in Hong Kong.
Less Mainland Chinese buy luxury products in Hong Kong: According to Bain and Company, in 2015, Chinese luxury shopping purchases in Japan tripled, while their spending in Hong Kong for luxury goods dropped by 25%.
There is a recent big boom in Chinese tourism to Japan partly for the shopping deals, and as an expat in China, you might want to also consider going to Korea or Japan instead of Hong Kong if you want to buy products such as electronics made in those countries.
The drop of the yen and won: The drop in value in the Japanese yen and Korean won is partly what is propelling Mainland Chinese to tour and shop in Japan and Korea instead of Hong Kong. There is quite a boom of Mainlanders visiting Japan in 2019.
Lower airline fares due to low fuel prices are also allowing shopping trips to overseas countries to be more affordable compared to shopping in Hong Kong.
In 2015, China lowered their high tariffs on some kinds of products, so people in China can buy some kinds of foreign products for less than several years ago. But the majority of products still have high tariffs, and now in 2019, American products specifically have high tariffs.
Here are some categories of common products with lower tariffs:
However, apart from high real estate rental prices, the lack of import duties and the low taxes still keeps Hong Kong a good shopping attraction for people arriving from China. The taxes are unusually low, about the lowest in the whole world. There is no sales tax, no capital gains tax, almost no VAT, and the maximum salary tax is 17%.
What is a good buy? Western or international foods, Hong Kong made foods like Chinese snacks, luxury or mid-tier clothing produced in countries other than China, cosmetics, alcohol, foreign language books, products of certain foreign countries such as the US, and high or mid-range electronics are things to consider getting as of 2019.
These are best bought outside of China because the ones made and sold in China are built for the Chinese marketplace, and they don't meet the international standard. For example, they won't have much Western software Google Play, and security might be an issue.
Probably most all or all computers sold in China and much of the software is pirated or modified for China. It might be that when you return to your country, the fake software might be detected, especially if you try to download updates from a foreign company, or purchase upgrades, and the company might disallow services.
Many people might also prefer to shop for Chinese made electronics in Hong Kong since the quality and reliability is higher, and you might also get a reliable warranty. A lot of Chinese do just that. They shop in Hong Kong for more reliable products and to avoid fakes.
There is a possibility that branded clothing and accessories bought in China are fake. There is a less of a chance for that in Hong Kong. Also, there is still a stiff tariff on most kinds of items, so shopping in Hong Kong still makes sense. For luxury fashion, buying in Hong Kong or Japan might be from 40 to 60% cheaper.
Mainland Chinese even prefer Chinese food from Hong Kong over similar foods of even the same Chinese brand thinking the quality is higher. The Hong Kong-style desserts, pastries and confectioneries are a highlight that many expats might consider bring back.
What you buy in China might be made in China, and might not be as high quality as the same food of the same brand in Hong Kong. So for everything ranging from baby milk substitute to American brands of chocolate bars, you might get a better product in Hong Kong where most of the international food is imported from overseas instead of made in China. The price difference might be from from 20 to 50 percent lower.
Chocolate is difficult to get hold of in China. They only have a few bars usually: Dove bars, maybe Snickers and M&Ms. Actually ALL dairy products are hard to find, and more expensive, especially in south China where they don’t tend to use milk and cheese.
If you want to buy South Asian foods and products, Chung King Mansions on Nathan Road remains the best place to go. It also has small African stores.
For Filipino food and products, World Wide Mall have stores for that as well as Malaysian, Indonesian and other Southeast Asian products.
Local tailor shops and custom garment designers are among the best in the world, and they can work quite quickly and outfit you with some of the world's best within 24 or 48 hours.
People from all over the world buy their custom clothes here, so you'll get the Western or international style.
Other than for luxury goods and high priced items electronics from those countries, it doesn't make much sense to take a flight to Korea or Japan just to shop. The bullet train lines have made getting to Hong Kong on a visa run or for just recreation, shopping and touring quite cheap and convenient.
In particular, the new HSR line to West Kowloon Station that just opened up in 2018 can take you to the heart of Hong Kong's shopping in just a few hours from much of south and central China. You could even do shopping day trips and return in the evening. Contact us if you want us to help with a shopping trip.
The Mainlanders believe there is a difference, and they are still crowding into Hong Kong shops and stores for everyday consumer products and foods because they think the quality, safety, reliability and price makes shopping in Hong Kong better even on the same kinds of products sold by the same Chinese brand.
This is why there is a whole huge industry of people carrying and pushing products over the border that has been built up over the last 15 years because people in the Mainland appreciate the difference.
Victoria Harbor sights in Hong Kong
December to February is a popular period for sales before and during Christmas, sales after Christmas, and during the run-up to Chinese New Year.
We can arrange a fine shopping tour for you. Hong Kong offers a panoply of choices ranging from high-end luxury brands to fascinating street markets.
It will be helpful to have a local guide who can give you accurate information based on your shopping interests.
Our tours are developed through years of experience and customer feedback and are reasonably priced. They can be customized to your requirements. You can contact us for help.