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Just two years ago when the yuan was high, there were many more kinds of products that expats wanted to get and bring back to China. But the higher Hong Kong dollar versus yuan and lower Mainland barriers for imports is making buying many products in Hong Kong seem less attractive. But there are still numerous things expats might want to buy and bring back in 2016 during their trip to Hong Kong.
Take note expats in China: Hong Kong isn't as attractive a shopping place as it was a few 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.
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.
The drop of the yen and won: The Japanese yen has dropped 40% against the dollar since its high. The recent 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.
Lower airline fares in 2016 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 you buy some kinds of foreign products for less than before. But the majority of products still have high tariffs.
As of 2016, here are some categories of common products with lower tariffs:
What is still 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, and high or mid-range electronics are things to consider getting.
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 Google Play.
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.
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 remains the best place to go. For Filipino food and products World Wide Mall have stores for that and also Malaysian, Indonesian and other Southeast Asian products.
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.
There has only been a few percentage point drop of the value of the RMB against the Hong Kong dollar over the last two years, so you can still stock up for your stay in China and save and get better quality.
The Mainlanders believe there is a difference, and although they are buying less luxury goods, 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 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 decade because people in the Mainland appreciate the difference. Even though new laws are restricting how often Mainlanders can enter Hong Kong in 2016, the total value of this buy and carry over trade is expected to decrease very little.
We can arrange a fine shopping tour for you.
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.
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.