A Report on Number of Smugglers Shops in Shek Wu Hui in January 2014
North District Parallel Imports Concern Group, in conjunction with bloggers of North District Random, conducted a third survey on number of shops with business skewed towards Chinese tourists under Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) in Shek Wu Hui. In January 2014, there were 201 relevant shops in Shek Wu Hui (exclude Landmark North). Among them there were 45 Chinese medicine and herbal shops, 43 drug stores, 31 money changers and 26 stores dedicated for smuggling activities. Smugglers shops along have increased over 270% just in six months. The founding reflects that it is time to review IVS or else Sheung Shui will become a smugglers shopping mall.
北區水貨客關注組， 聯同北區隨寫的博客，針對石湖墟區內業務偏向個人遊旅客的商店，進行了第三次的調查，發現在2014年一月，單單在石湖墟(不包括上水廣場)相關店舖已經多達201間，當中有45間中藥海味店，43間藥房，31間找換店，和26間專門為走私活動而開的店舖。走私專間店數量更在六個月內增多了超過270%。調查結果反映了現在是時候檢討”個人遊計畫” ，否則上水將成為走私者的購物商場。
The number of Individual Visit Scheme related shops in Shek Wu Hui between 2013/06 and 2014/01.
After the “Multiple-entry per Year” (i.e. “multiple-entry permits”) arrangement for Shenzhen residents began on August 2012, there is a sharp increase in smuggling activities in Sheung Shui, to the level that widely disturbs the livelihood of Hong Kong residents. Many people that involve in smuggling activities are believed to be Chinese visitors under the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS). In order to visualize the severity of the situation to the public, the Group has decided to conduct a survey to count the number of shops that favour Chinese visitors, such as drugstores, cosmetic shops, jewelers and money changers in Sheung Shui.
The survey is limited to Shek Wu Hui. For this survey, this is the area bounded by San Fung Avenue, Jockey Club Road and Lung Sum Avenue, but excluding Landmark North. The shops being counted are limited to business types that are considered benefit a lot from IVS. The Group members explored every corner of the map and manually recorded the address of each relevant shop to collect the required data.
The last two surveys were conducted in May-June 2013 and September 2013 respectively. The result of the first survey has been compiled as a map, and has been released to the public. Due to limited resources, and that another survey will start soon, the Group is unable to update the map on time. So, the Group chooses to release the current statistical data to the public for discussion.
Result and Discussion 結果與討論
The number of Chinese medicine & dried seafood shops is quite steady but the survey found that a few shops have converted into pharmacies. They still take the lead but will soon be over taken by pharmacies. Indeed, many pharmacies and Chinese medicine & dried seafood shops also have a money changer. The number of pharmacies in Shek Wu Hui has increased by 26% within 6 months. But according to the findings of the Legislative Council [RB06/13-14], the number of pharmacies in Hong Kong increased only 4.7% in the last ten years.
There is a sharp increase in the number of smugglers shops just in six months. Comparing to other shops, they are more toxic to the community because of their characteristics:
- They focus on “selling” products to Chinese visitors. They attract Chinese visitors and smugglers, drive away local consumers.
- They tend to open shops in alleys and side streets. They are willing to pay a lot of money to buy or to rent even a tiny alley tin hut. Small vendors and old shops that hide inside alley and side streets to serve the neighbourhood for many years have been driven out of business because of their aggressive shop grabbing strategy.
- They cause spillover effect on rental price in Sheung Shui. Many old shops and restaurants have to “retire” early because rental has been doubled or tripled. Living cost of the resident is rising too.
Goldsmith, jewellers, and cosmetic shops did not increase much because this survey does not cover Landmark North. Famous brands choose to open new shops in shopping malls such as Landmark North, Metropolis Plaza, Sheung Shui Centre Shopping Arcade, and Choi Yuen Shopping Arcade. In 2013-2014, Landmark North carried out renovation, moved restaurants and apparels at the lower floor to upper floors to make vacancy for these generous tenants. Prince Jewellery & Watch Co alone has leased 6 consecutive shops. Unfortunately, the Group does not have historical data to make a comparison. In Hong Kong, in the last decade there was 1500% increase in the number of cosmetic shops and 30.5% increase in the number of jewelers [RB06/13-14].
Backdoor warehouses and upper-floor warehouses are hard to be spotted. First, finding them out is a dangerous task. Second, they operate secretly. The statistics can only reflect the best of the Group’s knowledge.
One interesting thing is, while so many smugglers and Chinese visitors come to Sheung Shui to buy milk powder and diapers, there are only a few baby stores.
Cancel multiple-entry permits; reduce number of IVS visitors!
[RB06/13-14] Research Office, the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (2014). Individual Visit Scheme. Retrieved 18 May 2014 from http://www.legco.gov.hk/research-publications/english/1314rb06-individual-visit-scheme-20140507-e.pdf.
[RB06/13-14] 香港特別行政區資料研究組(2014). “個人遊”計劃. 檢索日期 2014 年5月18 日，網址 http://www.legco.gov.hk/research-publications/chinese/1314rb06-individual-visit-scheme-20140507-c.pdf
Chinese Medicine & Dried Seafood Shop sells herbal remedies, dried seafood, or both.
Pharmacy is drugstore that has the prescription sign. They include Watson and Mannings.
Money changer mostly only provides exchanges between HKD and CNY. Some of them also provide money transmission service between Hong Kong and China. A money changer can be a part of another shop.
Smugglers Shop only “sells” items-in-bulk to smugglers and cross-border couriers. Milk powder, diapers, Ferrero Rocher and Yakult are hot items. This shop is willing to “teach” their customers where to make a “profitable refund”. It does not welcome local people.
Processed Food Wholesaler sells various processed foods that are popular to Chinese visitors, such as Demae Itcho ramen. Although they prefer selling in bulk, they still serve local retail customer.
Snacks / Processed Food Store sell snacks and processed foods in competitive prices. 759 stores and PrizeMart are well-known examples. Hongkongers are still their main sales target.
Goldsmith primarily sells gold ornament. Jewelers will also be counted.
Cosmetic Shop sells beauty and health care products for a single brand or multiple brands.
Backdoor warehouse is a building where squads of smugglers can be seen coming out from its back door with luggage and bags.
Upper-floor warehouse is a tenement building from where squads of smugglers can be seen coming down with luggage and bags.
Cellar sells foreign-brand wine.
Baby store sells baby item.
Suggested Reading 推薦閱讀
Media Follow-up 傳媒的跟進
- 2014/05/20 VJ Media 輔仁 Repost
- 2014/05/21 Sky Post 晴報 / hket 經濟日報:
上水「水貨專門店」 半年增3倍 列明「人工」 走一轉賺$300
Sheung Shui Smuggler’s Shops Tripled in Half Year; “Salary” Listed One Trip Earns $300]
- 2014/05/22 Housenews 主場新聞 Repost
- 2014/05/23 Metro News 都市日報
Shenzhen Strikes Hard. Hong Kong Smugglers Imprisoned for Half Year
- 2014/05/25 Singtao星島日報 / Singtao Canada星島日報加西版 :
Sheung Shui Smuggler’s Shop Openly Hire Smugglers
- 2014/05/25 sino中新網:
Smugglers grab “returned” items with cheap price from Customs Office
North District Parallel Imports Concern Group is responsible for collecting data while North District Random writing the report. 北區水貨客關注組負責收集數據，北區隨寫則負責撰寫報告。