In November 2014, when I visited HongKong on my way to China, i couldn’t help but stay in the vicinity of the famous Golden Mile, Nathan Road. The famous shopping avenue has been for year a favorite place for tourists from all over the world who wanted to quickly shop for tech and media products where they could bargain and took advantage of cheap prices in the territory.
I remember when I first set foot in HongKong, as a geek, I couldn’t help but but spend hours in some of those shops try to find the cheapest up to date gadget. Since 2005, my favorite portion of the Golden Mile was Tsim Tsa Shui, between the Peninsula Hotel and Jordan road. You could find almost every 10 to 20meters tech shops with salesman at the door yelling at tourists. I was impressed prices could change significantly from a shop to another one just few steps away. I remember buying my first Macbook there after a fierce bargain.
Then things started to change.
The year before, I noticed that few shops already got closed. For example I saw only one out of two tech shop open on Peking Road just in front of the famous Chunking Mansions. That’s the place I bought my macbook years ago. Then, when I walked up the Golden Mile to Jordan, only on the right side few shops were open. Cameron road to Kimberley road, I saw that only two shops were still displaying their huge stock of Cameras, Smartphones, Laptops, shavers, speakers and other gadgets.
After the Observatory, no more shops open till Jordan road. And most shocking, no more shop on the left side of Nathan road on this area of Tsim Sha Tsui. Of course on the Park Lane Avenue just after the Kowloon Mosque and going towards the Police Station there were some shops but those are branded shops and not really matching the kind of shops I’m talking about.
At the end of the stay, I discussed with one of the shop owners about the decline of their business and what he told me what really sad: online shops killed their business. Tourists can now find online same goods at very cheap rates. Their rents are very expensive and they need to hire at least 6 salesmen per shop. Wages and other expense keep rising while their sales declined. And many other business, specially fashion and grocery stores business increased. No one named it, but I guess alibaba the Chinese Online shopping giant was being blamed.
Last October 2015, I was in Hong kong and the situation worsened for my tech shops: No more shop on Peking Road, Only one shop between Chunking Mansions and Carnavon Road and a second Shop just after Kimberley road near the Mirador Mansions. at the end of my stay I only found 3 tech shops from Peninsula Hotel to Jordan road. What a decline.
As far as I remember, the Golden Mile was famous for those shops and their Neon signs displaying : CANON, NIKON, SONY, KONICA, FUJI…… This is dying. And its a part of the history of Nathan road, Kowloon and HongKong itself that is dying.
This sad story just remembers me the situation of SURCOUF and Rue Montgallet in Paris, France. First was the biggest Computer shop in France for years before it collapsed few years ago while the second was an adjacent street to Surcouf where dozens of Chinese shops were dealing in Tech and Computer products. Nowadays in Paris, the area is just empty and shops are closed or being closed. The few still open are struggling to keep up with different luck.