Mainlanders not put off by fakes scandal

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 April, 2007, 12:00am

Tourists satisfied with HK shops, survey shows

Mainland tourists on the individual visits scheme remain confident in Hong Kong shops and see little risk of buying fake goods, despite widespread publicity about the woes of travellers on 'zero-fee' packages and a decline in service standards.

This was revealed in a survey released yesterday amid a scandal over fake goods being sold to package tourists.

The Polytechnic University study found that the image of Hong Kong retailers had worsened in three of five key areas, although in all but one it was ahead of the base year, 2004.

The latest phase in the study of 'customer perceived value' also sounded an alarm over a possible deterioration of Hong Kong's 'core competitive edge', particularly in service and effort.

But it still gave retailers a satisfaction level overall of 73.3 per cent, which the researchers said was comparable with 74.4 per cent in the US and higher than that of some European countries.

Mainlanders, it said, gave Hong Kong retailers an average score of almost six out of seven in terms of the low risk of buying fake goods.

'Findings show that overall service levels in some areas have been steadily deteriorating over the previous six phases of the study,' the researchers said in a statement.

'Perceived risk and safety are also deteriorating slightly and this, together with the recent counterfeit products scandal, highlights the need for more effort to sustain the competitive edge of Hong Kong retailers.'

In the survey, 3,206 questionnaires were completed by shoppers from Hong Kong, the mainland - mostly individual travellers - and elsewhere.

Judy Tsui, dean of the faculty of business, said possible reasons for a drop in service standards included an influx of customers and insufficient numbers of salesmen, leading to difficulty in locating desired products or trouble communicating with the salesmen. This resulted in less interaction with customers, dampening the desire to purchase.

Another researcher, Sherriff Luk Ting-kwong, said service quality was not bad in general, and 'mainland tourists who had not joined zero-fee tours remain confident to shop in Hong Kong'.

The survey also highlighted the importance to retailers of mainlanders, who made up more than half of the respondents and were the biggest spenders on jewellery, watches and cosmetics.

The study was conducted by the Asian Centre for Brand Management of the university's business faculty.

Meanwhile, another study found that 30 per cent of mainland tourists had unpleasant shopping experiences in Hong Kong.

About half of the 262 mainlanders polled by the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong also said their confidence in shopping in the city had been affected by the fake goods scandal.

Researchers from both studies urged the government to allocate more resources to educate mainland shoppers to better know their rights as consumers, and to work closely with the media to rebuild the city's image as a 'shopping paradise'.