As a shopping destination, Hong Kong has over the past decade charted a course towards the very high-end in brands - and it seems retailers are now paying a very expensive price for the trend.
With a 46 percent rise in rents, quarter on quarter, as 2010 drew to a close, Hong Kong is now second only to New York in terms of what tenants pay for retail locations across the city.
According to the latest figures released by global commercial property company CB Richard Ellis last week, Hong Kong last year surpassed Sydney as the second-most expensive city in the world, with the average cost being paid now hitting US$1,687 per square foot per year. Sydney retailers now pay US$1,301, according to CBRE.
New York still tops the charts with rents at US$1,900 - but Hong Kong seems intent on closing the gap as the world's leading brands continue to set up shop all over town.
Local media here have reported even US casual retailer Abercrombie & Fitch has gotten in on the act and is paying US$1.5 million a month for a 600-square-foot shop in the bustling shopping district of Causeway Bay.
The fact that Hong Kong is the favorite shopping destination for mainland China plays a significant role in the demand for retail space here - a record 22.7 million arrived during 2010 and April saw 2.1 million cross the border.
According to a recent report from Swiss-based tax refund and shopping service provider Global Blue, more than 70 percent of outbound consumption by Chinese travelers was taken up by shopping.