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Golden Week visitor surge should have benefited retailers

Soaring numbers of Mainland Chinese tourists over Golden Week should have boosted retailers in the lower sectors of the market.

Thanks to the new ‘One Bridge-One Rail’ network seamlessly linking Hong Kong with the mainland, and a slightly extended Golden Week this year, arrival numbers were up by more than 59 per cent over last year, setting a record of almost 1 million.

Veronica Wang, partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants, said for most, shopping and sightseeing were their core missions. But more were checking in at trendy “Insta-worthy” places, a rapidly growing attraction for visitors, especially millennials and Gen Zers.

“This Golden Week has seen once non-touristy places such as Sai Wan public cargo working area and Pavilion of Harmony at CUHK become crowded with tourists,” she said.

“KOLs and social media in China play a huge role in creating this trend. Those places have been recommended as niche and unique by KOLs on Red, a popular social shopping platform from Mainland China, which attract younger generation tourists who are more under the influence of social media and eager to stand out from cliché photos at the Avenue of Stars or Victoria Peak.”

While overall visitor numbers from the mainland are up, many commentators have cautioned that the overall demographic is shifting to people from third-tier cities and below with less discretionary income than their counterparts in tier 1 and 2 cities. This means they are likely to spend less on luxury goods, gravitating more to categories such as cosmetics and food.

The latest retail spending figures for Hong Kong, covering March and before Golden Week, showed a negligible 0.2 per cent decline in retail sales year on year, and a 1.2 per cent decline for the first quarter. It will be another four weeks before official government figures show the effect of visitor arrivals on retail sales in April.

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