Chinese shoppers spend up big abroad

Updated: 2012-12-26 11:07


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This festive season, retailers here in China are taking the opportunity to entice shoppers. But for many Chinese, it's the perfect time for an overseas shopping trip.

It's just a normal Thursday, but there are still dozens of people holding their passports and lining up for the airport immigration and security check.

A tourist said, "I am going to Hong Kong. There's a bigger choice of things to buy there, and the prices are much cheaper than here. I'll go to Kowloon, Tsim Sha Tsui and Harbor City to buy inexpensive jewelry and handbags."

Hu Shiyun, inspector of Exit & Entry Frontier Inspection Station in SH Airport, said, "Airport figures show the number of outbound travellers was 200 thousand last week, up about 15% from last year. Half were mainland tourists. Hong Kong and Southeast Asia are most popular destinations, followed by the United States and Australia."

And a large proportion of them are going abroad to shop. A recent Nielsen report indicates that 90% of mainland tourists going to Hong Kong mainly for the shopping. The numbers are increasing year by year. China's relatively stable economy and the appreciation of the renminbi mean more people can afford trips and purchases overseas.

Yvonne Lum, vice president of Consumer Research, HK, said, "As of last year, more than about 70% of incoming tourists into Hong Kong are mainland tourists. We also see a growth in tourists coming into Hong Kong from non-tier one cities in China, up 43% to 60%."

In addition to Hongkong, Europe and the United States have become hot destinations for shoppers as well. And travel agents are now including more shopping spots in their travel packages to boost sales.

Dai Yu, Marketing Director of SH Ctrip International Travel Service Co Ltd said, "Tours to the American East Coast include shopping at the largest factory outlet mall in the United States. There are more than 200 shops and the average prices are 50 to 70 percent off. In New York, we arrange the hotels in Manhattan, which are only 10 to 15 minute's walk to 5th Avenue."

Chinese are now the largest group of overseas shoppers in many western countries, including the United States, France and the United Kingdom. According to retailers in the US, Chinese tourists usually purchase more than twice as much as other international visitors. China has the fastest growth rates of overseas purchasing in the world.