Shops catering to visitors from the mainland are struggling while business is stable for those that cater more to locals - and Causeway Bay retailers say the government is to blame for allowing the economy to become over-reliant on cross-border consumerism.
"We've lost about 50 per cent of our business. Us small, brandless, independent shops, are suffering even more than the big companies," jeweller Philip Chung said. Local retailers are smarting from Hong Kong's steepest sales drop in five years.
Chung said 80 per cent of trade at Truly Treasury Gold and Jewellery on Hennessy Road, where he has worked for 23 years, came from mainlanders.
But as economic growth on the mainland has slowed and graft-busting campaigns kicked in, their business has plunged.
"You don't see mainlanders buying dozens of watches in one go now," Chung said. The watches, often given as gifts to government officials or people in power, are no longer any good as presents. "No mainland official would wear a gold Rolex while surveying a disaster zone now."
The jeweller, speaking after government figures showed sales in April were down 9.8 per cent year on year, said relying on mainland business was a double-edged sword.
"The number of mainlanders coming here has increased, but they are here to do business, not to consume," Chung said. "In the process, they jack up the rents while not really increasing our income."
Albert Chong, who owns Kam Lun Dispensary on Tin Lok Lane, said his business had dropped 20 to 30 per cent this year, mainly due to lower mainland spending.
"The past few months have been the worst," he said.
But Edmund Lee, who owns Man Sang Dispensary next door, which sells mainly to locals, said he had not seen a drop in business since last year.
He said the government should support the local economy instead of allowing and even encouraging over-reliance on mainlander consumerism.