- Hong Kong distributes shopping vouchers worth US $ 650 to every resident aged 18 and over.
- This Hong Kong retail boost will cost the city’s government $ 7.2 billion.
- Insider asked 12 people how they were spending the money.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Hong Kong quotes Hong Kong dollars 5,000 or $ 643 every citizen and permanent resident over 18 years of age.
It’s all part of Hong Kong’s $ 7.2 billion game boost its economy. The city’s tax authority estimates an increase in retail spending will increase its GDP by at least 0.7 percentage points.
Hong Kong’s shopping voucher system is slightly different from that of the US Stimulus checks, that can be saved or used to pay off debt. In Hong Kong, the money is distributed over four wallets with stored value: AliPay HK, octopus, Tap & go, and WeChat Pay HK, and Hong Kong residents can only spend the money on retail items from there.
A The initial payout of around USD 250 (HK $ 2,000) in retail vouchers was distributed on August 1st. That sent Hong Kongers flock to the stores to meet their spending goals, which is a requirement to get the remaining coupons.
The scheme works on a registration basis and applies to retail spending within the city only. According to a blog entry As of July 18, the government had received more than 6.1 million signups for the vouchers, according to the city’s finance minister, Paul Chan.
Insider spoke to 12 people living in Hong Kong to find out what they were spending the vouchers on.
The bank boss Cindy Chen, 25, buys a new iPhone with her vouchers.
“I think I’ll choose that iPhone mini. I have to top up about HK $ 2,300 ($ 295), but it’s definitely what I need now, “said Chen.
“The program will definitely help boost spending in Hong Kong,” said Chen. “Of course, for most Hong Kong residents, the more money is spent, the better.”
The 23-year-old law student Martin Chau wants to buy an iPad with the initial payout.
“I wasn’t exactly saving up for an iPad, but now that we have the government coupons, I plan to get it. It will help me a lot with my studies,” he said.
Designer Janet Ng Wing Yan, 26, issued the first retail coupons for a couple Libratone wireless earbuds.
“The vouchers came at the right time because my wired earphones were defective. It’s been on my wish list for a while and the voucher is an incentive to buy it, ”said Ng. She spent nearly $ 250 on the earbuds and plans to use the remaining coupons to get birthday favors for her mother and sister.
YK Lam, who works in marketing, said the coupons help him pay for one HK $ 25,000 (3,216) Canon camera.
“I have long planned to upgrade my camera and I use it at work. I wouldn’t use the money on beauty products and food anyway, ”Lam told Insider.
Freelance photographer Cheung Wui-mun, 33, said he was eager for new lighting equipment and a tripod.
“I haven’t had time to watch this, but now that the coupons are being released it is a good time for me to upgrade my lighting equipment. Sometimes the lights flicker in the worst of times and it messes up my footage,” “he said.
Cheung added that he could potentially use some of the money to make one too new 85 mm lens for portrait photographywhich he estimates will likely hit his coupon limit and will have to spend about $ 150 worth of his own money.
Jacky Choi, 29, who works in quality assurance, uses the money to replace his air conditioning system.
“We checked the price and it will cost us around HK $ 12,000 ($ 1,543) to replace an air conditioner, so the amount will help offset the total cost,” Choi said. “We’ve been using our old system for 20 years and it’s time to buy a new one.”
Winnie Cheng, a 32-year-old event planner, is also thinking of air conditioning.
She told Insider that her family of five combined her first vouchers totaling HKD 10,000 (US $ 1,286) to replace the air conditioning at home.
“The air conditioners in our house were due to be replaced, so we all agreed to just log in and replace the air conditioner,” Cheng told Insider, saying she would likely buy a new phone with the remaining coupons.
Fung Ka-kit, 21, uses his voucher to buy his brother new shoes.
Fung wants to use part of his money to buy his 16-year-old brother Ka-wing a pair of volleyball shoes.
“I know my brother loves this pair of red and black trainers, but we couldn’t afford them. He’s worn out his old pair and I want to get him a replacement. That could be his birthday present,” said Fung, the one Engineering degree. The couple Asics kicks which his brother has in mind is HK $ 1,690 ($ 217).
Fung told Insiders that he will use the remaining part of the money to get a gaming keyboard.
“It gives us a chance to get things that we wanted but couldn’t afford,” said Fung. “Normally I wouldn’t splurge on things like gaming equipment because I make just enough to get by from my part-time job as a tutor.”
Marketing manager Jimmy Kwok Chun-ting, 28, said he used his coupons to buy furniture.
“I was given a mattress for my renovated room. It was something I should have bought whether the voucher was issued or not,” said Kwok.
He added that the Therapedic mattress he bought cost a little over $ 900, so he paid the rest out of pocket.
Yeung Pik-wah, 27, shows off expensive food.
Yeung Pik-wah, 27, who works in the food import industry, plans to spend her money on groceries. Top quality Japanese scallops and eel are at the top of their grocery shopping list.
“I bought a few items at the grocery store on Monday, and since there was that amount to offset the cost, I was more generous with my budget at the checkout,” said Yeung, adding that the premium groceries she wanted to buy “Things were loved but usually didn’t have the budget for them.
“It will run out very quickly, however, as I use it for my daily expenses,” added Yeung.
Ignatius Lee, 67, general secretary of an NGO in the city, said he would treat himself to an ice cream.
Lee said he would likely use his coupons on groceries for his family of three.
“If they gave us all the money at once, I could use it to buy an iPhone. But the first round is only HK $ 2,000, so there is not much to spend on electronics. I’ll use it to maybe buy Haagen Dazs ice cream, ”he said.
Chau Kwong Ming, 72, a retiree, told Insiders that he was using the money to prepare a fancy meal for his family.
“I like to cook, so it is good to spend more on some ingredients to make my family good meal,” Chau said. “I’m thinking of buying expensive seafood like crab and lobster or maybe beef and chicken.”
He intends to use whatever is left top up his Oyster Card (the Hong Kong version of a Metrocard).
“The cost of living in Hong Kong is much higher than you think. The HK $ 5,000 will help us buy good food and vitamins and pay for transportation, which I think is good enough, ”he said.