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Mainland shoppers flock to Hong Kong

By Zheng Caixiong in Guangzhou and Gao Changxin in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2013-01-25 08:02

Zhang Yue'e was tired but excited when she returned home to Guangzhou's Haizhu district on Tuesday evening.

The 46-year-old white-collar worker had just completed a journey of about five hours from Hong Kong to Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province.

In addition to the train trip from Shenzhen to Guangzhou, Zhang had to spend a considerable amount of time at the borders in Hong Kong and Shenzhen due to the long lines.

"It was really crowded at the Luohu checkpoint, I had to wait for a long time to pass the checkpoints at the Hong Kong side and at the Shenzhen side," she said.

Luohu is the busiest land border on the Chinese mainland. An average of 280,000 people a day cross the checkpoint to enter the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region or the Chinese mainland.

Zhang, who works in an international company, left home with an empty wheeled suitcase and a knapsack. Both were full when she returned.

In addition to cosmetics, Zhang bought two pairs of sneakers, 10 brand-name T-shirts, two tins of milk powder, a bottle of soy sauce, and other daily-use articles and food items.

Zhang said she plans to visit Hong Kong for shopping once more before the Chinese New Year, which falls on Feb10.

"I want to buy some candy, chocolates and other products for the coming Spring Festival and some medicine for my parents," she said.

Zhang is just one of the many Guangdong residents planning to visit Hong Kong for shopping as the Spring Festival approaches.

She added that many of her friends and neighbors are planning shopping trips to Hong Kong in the coming weeks.

More than 120,000 residents of the Pearl River Delta cities are now leaving their homes to shop in Hong Kong or Macao daily.

And the figure is expected to surge in the coming days, as the biggest Chinese festival draws near.

Tourism industry insiders forecast that the number of Guangdong residents who will visit Hong Kong for shopping in the coming Spring Festival will grow about 30 percent this year.

The appreciation of the yuan and inflation on the mainland are two of the reasons.

Local retailers in Hong Kong are benefiting from the influx of mainland shoppers.

A spokesman with Tmtplaza in Tuen Mun said that mainland shoppers spend an average of HK$6,000 to HK$50,000 ($774 to $6,450) at the shopping center, mainly in confectionery, jewelry and seafood. Some shoppers spend up to HK$200,000 in just one tour. The shopping center expects mainlanders to spend a total of HK$100 million in January.

Andrea Leung, owner of a confectionery shop in Tuen Mun, said she has replenished her stock in advance to prepare for increased purchases by mainlanders during the Spring Festival.

"It's been like this every year for a long time. This is our best season. We like mainland shoppers, even though some might not like them because they make the streets more crowded," said Leung.

This year, mainland shoppers are especially buying Jenny Bakery cookies, a bear-shaped Danish cookie, as well as the Cookies Quartet brand, she added.

There are shops in Shenzhen that also sell those products shipped from Hong Kong, but at a higher price. A box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates, for example, sells for HK$105 in Shenzhen, around 30 percent more than in Hong Kong.

In Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, more than 30 percent of its residents visit Hong Kong for shopping at least once a month.

Last Saturday, the Shenzhen Bay Checkpoint alone saw more than 110,000 people cross the border. And more than 200 million people are estimated to cross the border annually in Shenzhen.

Shang Mingyan, another Guangzhou resident, said she plans to visit Hong Kong at the beginning of February.

"Shopping is my major purpose, as Hong Kong actually lacks enough scenic spots to attract mainland visitors," she said.

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