I hate to be the bearer of bad news but often find myself doing exactly that when friends come to Hong Kong for the first time and announce that they are looking forward to all the great shopping opportunities Hong Kong offers.
This might have been the case in years gone by when it was not possible to get ‘everything everywhere’ as it is today, and the world was not one big village connected by online shopping sites and global brands with their price fixing policies.
Hong Kong does not have a Value Added Tax (VAT) as they do in Europe or a Sales Tax like in the US and Canada. Furthermore, many (read most) products are produced just over the border, so shipping fees are at a minimum. These two facts alone should make Hong Kong a shopping haven, yet I, like most expats, will be doing most of my shopping online this Christmas. It is a well know fact amongst the foreign community here that it is often cheaper to buy goods online in the US, UK and Australia and have them shipped here, then it is to buy the very same product locally.
Middle of the range brands such as Marks and Spencers or the GAP for example, have flagship shops here, but their goods are priced well above their equivalents in the UK or US.
Even prices in the technology industry don’t fair much better, and this is where most people expected Hong Kong to come out on top. There is in fact a small difference and some special deals can be found, but the saving are usually barely noticeable and often not worth the hassle of having to put up with a Hong Kong local warranty unless you live here.
Except (drumroll please) Apple products.
The realisation that almost all official Apple products are cheaper in Hong Kong, by a significant margin, really caught me by surprise. A quick comparison of the prices with Apple’s UK website showed me just how much of a saving can be made by going through Apple’s Hong Kong store.
At the time of writing, the 32GB iPad Mini was £76 cheaper, the iPad 3, 32GB with wifi & cellular data, came in at a £121 saving, and the 13 inch 2.5 GHZ Mac Book Pro was a whopping £259 cheaper.
Roger Wade, over at Priceoftravel.com has done the legwork and compared the price of some of Apple’s core products in 35 countries, putting together a nice little comparison table. Although US prices are slightly skewed because they are shown without local sales tax, it is nice to see we have at least one major shopping advantage in Hong Kong.