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consumer confidence and purchase intention remains high
Hong Kong SAR offers a wide variety of retail brands and shopping options for locals and shoppers from mainland China and around the region. In 2018, high levels of consumer confidence had reportedly resulted in increased consumer spending. New athleisure and luxury brands were also seen entering the Hong Kong SAR market as part of their global expansion plans, where they seek to tap into the wallets of Asian shoppers.
However, the retail market in Hong Kong SAR is facing fierce competition from mainland China as many international brands are relocating their Asia Pacific headquarters to cosmopolitan cities such as Shanghai and Beijing. This move not only enables companies to gain a better understanding of local customer behaviour and cultural nuances, it also allows them to engage consumers directly through popular social media platforms that are available in China such as WeChat or Weibo. International brands are also increasingly engaging Chinese celebrities, key opinion leaders and influencers as brand ambassadors to build public awareness and appeal to affluent customers.
Despite these external factors, experts are confident that overall purchase intention will remain strong in Hong Kong SAR, with a moderate growth of five to 10 per cent in 2019. Consumers are also more likely to spend on mid-level brands (i.e. fast fashion brands) instead of the high-end luxury market in 2019.
2019 employment outlook in retail and luxury
The retail and luxury sector will likely remain as a candidate-short market in Hong Kong SAR in 2019. Companies that are expanding their retail team this year should focus on strengthening their employer brand and offer competitive remuneration packages to prospective candidates.
However, external market factors are posing some challenges in the local labour market in terms of talent mobility. In the event that the Chinese currency (RMB) weakens from the uncertainty, employees may choose to stay with their current employer to ensure employment.