Hong Kong shopping is one of the city's real attractions. Getting value for money is a different story.Read our tips below to learn about the sales and the scams, and why bargaining is all part of the game in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong may still be a duty-free port, but it's not the bargain it once was. Check the price of the item you want to buy in your home country first. When you arrive in Hong Kong you should check out some of the larger department stores or reputable dealers for your product. You can't start bargaining until you know how much you should be paying - and if you're really getting a bargain. Also, take a quick look at our article Is Hong Kong Expensive?
Prices in Hong Kong are more a suggestion than a fix and you should always look to negotiate at least 30% of the ticket price at markets and smaller shops. Before you start haggling it might be worth taking a look at our Bargaining in Hong Kong Guide which explains the rules and etiquette involved.
Know the Product
Know exactly what you want to buy. Which features do you want, accessories, model? Again, looking around in your home country and at reputable stores in Hong Kong means you'll have some honest advice.
Choose Your Shop Carefully
The Hong Kong Tourism Board has a Quality Control Scheme that vets shops on pricing, honesty and a host of other attributes - these shops generally don't offer bargains but are reputable. Unless you are confident of price and product, you should also avoid shops that don't clearly display the price of an item.
If you're determined to go bargain hunting, shop around. Hong Kong salespeople are notoriously aggressive when negotiating. But the ball is in your court if you don't like the salesperson or the price quoted is to high move on to the next store.
Hit the Sales
As befits a city obsessed with shopping, Hong Kong has a number of bona fida sales seasons, where you'll find prices slashed and bargains aplenty. The major sales seasons are Christmas, Chinese New Year and in late summer. Find out more in our article Where and When are the Hong Kong Sales Seasons.
Check the Product
Hong Kong shops have an undeserved reputation for using a switch and bait tactics. This involves showing you one product but placing an inferior item in the box. This practice is not widespread, nevertheless, you need to make sure what you think you're buying is what you leave the store with. Find out more in our article on How To Avoid Bait and Switch in Hong Kong
Ensure compatibility. Check the voltage of any item you want to buy.
Make sure the product has an international warranty. This can be a problem with 'Parallel Imports'. These products are usually brought into Hong Kong by someone other than the official importer. While they are cheap their warranty is usually void.
Beware of Bootlegs
There are plenty of bootleg and illegal products on Hong Kong's streets, which police often turn a blind eye to. If however you are found with these at customs, they are subject to confiscation. It's also worth knowing that most of these illegal operations are at some point down the line run by the Hong Kong triads
If you're in dispute, call the Consumer Council Hotline on 2929 2222 for assistance. You can also approach uniformed hawker police who patrol markets.