The Wall Street Journal tries to unpack the recent soft sales in Hong Kong that extend far beyond the auction market. While the number of visitors to Hong Kong remains spectacular at 28 million persons a year, there’s a growing sense that mainland Chinese are traveling farther afield to go luxury shopping:
As mainlanders venture farther abroad, Europe and other Asian countries are big beneficiaries of the Chinese tourist boom. Global Blue, a company that helps tourists get tax refunds from their shopping abroad, said it processed 59% more tax refunds to Chinese shoppers during the 12-month period ended in March 2012 from the same period a year earlier. Global Blue operates in 35 countries, mostly in Europe but also Japan, Singapore and Korea. Shopping in the U.K. was particularly active: Global Blue saw tax refunds from Chinese shoppers go up 64% in that period.
Hong Kong sales are still getting boosted by the absence of high import duties and luxury taxes, which make luxury goods as much as 30% cheaper than if bought in mainland China, says Aaron Fischer, a retail analyst at brokerage firm CLSA.
A Hong Kong Craze Cools (WSJ)