How Hong Kong lost its world No 1 spot for luxury shopping: Manhattan’s Upper Fifth Avenue in New York overtook Tsim Sha Tsui as the city’s strict Covid-19 measures continue to deter tourists

A Gucci store on Fifth Avenue, New York contrasted with a shopping mall in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. Photos: AFP Yik Yeung-man

Hong Kong no longer has the world’s most expensive retail district after rents plummeted due to Covid-19 curbs and restrictions on visitors.

A banner saying “want money, don’t want goods”, is posted outside a watch shop, which is on its closure sale before shutting down at Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. Photo: K.Y. Cheng
Manhattan’s Upper Fifth Avenue is now the priciest street globally for shopping, according to a survey by commercial property firm Cushman & Wakefield Plc. Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui district comes second, followed by Italy’s Via Montenapoleone in Milan. The previously annual survey is the first since 2019.

Annual rents for Upper Fifth Avenue shops averaged US$2,000 per sq ft, up 14 per cent from pre-pandemic levels, according to the report. Rents in Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon fell 41 per cent to US$1,436 per sq ft in the period, while those in Via Montenapoleone rose 9 per cent to US$1,380.

Strict ongoing Covid-19 measures

Tourists are seen at Tsim Sha Tsui’s promenade in Hong Kong. Photo: K.Y. Cheng
Hong Kong is struggling with a downturn after some of the world’s strictest Covid-19 measures and the closed border with mainland China slashed the number of visitors. The city received just 250,000 arrivals in the first nine months of this year, compared with almost 56 million for the whole of 2019.
London’s New Bond Street slid one place to fourth, with average rents down 11 per cent, while the Avenue des Champs Elysees in Paris came in fifth after it fell an average 18 per cent, according to Cushman & Wakefield.

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The Americas were the most resilient region, largely due to the US, with average rents now 15 per cent above pre-pandemic levels, the report said. In Asia, they dropped by an average 17 per cent because of border closures, it said.

The shops of Causeway Bay in Hong Kong. Photo: Robert Ng

Tsim Sha Tsui overtook Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay district as the city’s most- expensive retail district, according to the survey, which tracks the top retail districts across 92 cities and ranks the priciest by prime rental value.

While Hong Kong has removed its most onerous pandemic curbs, including hotel quarantine and flight bans, visitors are still subject to a series of restrictions and tests.

Causeway Bay held the world’s top spot in 2018, when it displaced Upper Fifth Avenue for the first time in five years, according to the survey.

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  • According to a survey by Cushman & Wakefield Plc, Hong Kong has been replaced by New York’s Upper Fifth Avenue as the world’s most expensive retail district
  • Tsim Sha Tsui overtook Causeway Bay and comes in second, followed by Italy’s Via Montenapoleone, London’s New Bond Street and Avenue des Champs Elysees in Paris