Hong Kong's culture is very much dominated by consumerism. In the early Colonial Hong Kong period, the territory served as a middleman that sold far more than it consumed. Goods were largely sold via mobile hawker units or independent shops, with the majority of trade, utilities, shipping and manufacturing handled by the Hongs. The establishment of banks and deposit institutions allowed people to accumulate savings, and expand their personal finance.
With significant manufacturing outputs, the economy turned around in the , setting the mall trends in motion. One of the first recognized modern shopping centre was . Daimaru opened the flood gate of Japanese goods to Hong Kong in 1966.
In the late 1970s, one of the first modern shopping development was in above the MTR station. Only specific import goods like alcohol, tobacco, perfumes, cosmetics, cars and petroleum products have taxes associated. For companies, there is a 17.5% corporate tax, which is lower than international standards.
Its proximity to manufacturing plants in China as well as being a free port provide the territory with significant advantages. Large quantities of goods could be manufactured and transported in short periods of time. Imports from Europe, Japan, US and Taiwan also add international flavor to the mix.
Convenience is a given, when most stores are tightly lined up next to one another in proximity. Tsim Sha Tsui alone offer more than 600 stores. Similar statistics can be drawn from and numerous other areas. With its balance of international stores, shopping in Hong Kong could essentially mimic shopping around the world. Though shopping selections are based on a wide scope, ranging from the most ancient to the most hi-tech goods.
Businesses are not always catered to high-end wealthy customers, as plenty of bargains attract regular shoppers. Transportation also eases the shopping experience as MTR subway and s allow anyone to get around with no preceding geographical knowledge or drivers license.
Other benefits include a mild winter climate during the two most critical shopping seasons in Christmas and Chinese New Year .
Hong Kong is unique in the sense that the population is fully engaged in two very different languages. Having derived from the Sino-Tibetan family and from the , the territory is capable of communicating with eastern or western shoppers. Merchants will find it handy to open branches in a bilingual territory. While one may argue the proficiency of English in some areas, Hong Kong, Macau and India are the only region on the with a 50% stake in two very different language families. The law also guarantees both Cantonese and English remain official, so bilingual sales tags and sales people are common, especially in the areas frequented by tourists.
Cultural openness is also an important factor, as Hong Kong is receptive toward selling merchandise regardless of the origin. Government believes in a hands-off policy, and do not censor, restrict or modify. An example is authentic looking .
Hong Kong is trendy and moves at a hectically fast pace. One can go shopping at a particular place, only to return a few days later to find the store completely rearranged. To survive stores must stay current, not only in merchandise but presentation.
In the mix of competition, Hong Kong has a reputation for selling counterfeits and fakes. The mishap of paying for items that turns out to be illegitimate is an ongoing problem. Items from bootleg CDs, clothing brands, watches to software have all been forged. The Hong Kong Tourism Board have introduced a plan to identify shops that offer a reliable service via a 300 page book called "A Guide to Quality Shops and Restaurants". Divisions like have also taken part in the anti-corruption process. On the contrary, bargain hunting has been a controversial issue since local consumers often seek to buy imitation brand-named goods at well below market price value.
However, in recent years, this problem has shifted to mainland China, where IP laws are not enforced as strongly and prices of these counterfeit products are even lower.
Warranties and return policies vary widely depending on stores. A majority will not allow refund or exchanges if the items have been tampered with.