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Why Hong Kong shoppers are flocking to China's Shenzhen

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Hong Kong residents burdened by higher costs at home are increasingly crossing the border into Shenzhen, China, for bargain shopping and leisure activities.

The shopping migration: Hong Kongers have been traveling to Shenzhen for shopping and other leisure activities since China reopened its borders and eased pandemic restrictions in January 2023, reported the New York Times. The city has become a weekend destination for many Hong Kong travelers due to its lower prices and diverse offerings.

The big picture: Hong Kong remains among the world's most expensive cities to live in, with many citizens now opting to go abroad to look for cost-effective alternatives. Meanwhile, China's slowing economy has resulted in a decline in prices, attracting bargain hunters from Hong Kong.

"Cheap and bargains are in," Hong Kong resident Joseph Wang shared on Quora. "Everyone is now looking for bargains, and people are thinking more carefully about what they are spending money on, and shopkeepers are responding with bargains and experiences."

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Purchases in mainland China are also significantly cheaper for Hong Kong residents in general, reported the Wall Street Journal. This is due to a combination of factors, including lower taxes and tariffs, differences in production costs and the current favorable exchange rate between the Hong Kong dollar and the Chinese yuan.

Sociopolitical considerations: Despite some travelers’ concerns about political tensions between Hong Kong and Beijing, many choose to separate their shopping activities from their political views. Online, some Hong Kong travelers resort to discussing whether it is safe and politically acceptable for individuals with negative views of the Chinese government to visit Shenzhen.

Economic implications: This trend marks a significant shift in economic dynamics, as mainland Chinese were previously known to travel to Hong Kong for shopping and leisure.

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Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at SOAS University in London, told CNN that such a shift indicates a troubling sign for Hong Kong.

“When ordinary people of Hong Kong, which used to be the shopper’s paradise, prefer to shop in Shenzhen, Hong Kong is not doing well by its ordinary folks,” he was quoted saying.

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