E-Commerce in Hong Kong: Outlook & Retail Trends in 2023

Last Updated: October 30, 2023


How's The Development of E-Commerce in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong’s traditional culture of social shopping and easy access to bricks-and-mortar retailers have long constricted the growth of online commerce in the territory. However, this trend is rapidly changing, thanks to Hong Kong’s sophisticated telecommunications infrastructure, high income levels, and the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. According to the Office of Communications Authority (Ofca), the rate of household broadband penetration stood at 96.6% as of the end of 2021, up from 94.9% at the end of 2020. Additionally, 81% of customers now have fiber-to-the-home or fiber-to-the-building connections, up from 78.1% at the end of 2020.

This impressive telecommunications infrastructure is further supported by the presence of 294 internet service providers and 83,095 public Wi-Fi access points as of March 2022. The government also provides free Wi-Fi services at major government buildings. Broadband services are relatively cheap in Hong Kong, thanks to fierce competition and high population density. Many residents access the internet through mobile devices such as phones and tablets.

The majority of telecom traffic in Hong Kong is now data-based, rather than voice-based. According to Ofca, Hong Kong had around 24.8 million mobile-phone subscribers in December 2021, with 99.8% of these being mobile broadband customers. The territory’s 323.4% mobile subscriber penetration rate is among the highest in the world. Hong Kong’s mobile carriers were among the first to establish networks using fifth-generation (5G) technology, which allows mobile phones and other wireless devices to connect to the internet and use other data services at high download speeds.

As of the end of May 2022, Hong Kong had five mobile-network operators. The market leader is Hong Kong Telecom (HKT), majority-owned by PCCW, a UK-based telecom holding company, with about 4.4 million mobile subscribers as of June 2021. The others are Hutchison Asia Telecom Group (under the 3 Hong Kong brand), SmarTone (owned by property developer Sun Hung Kai Properties), China Mobile Hong Kong, and CSL Mobile, which is also controlled by PCCW. According to EIU, about 79% of mobile subscribers had 4G access in December 2019.

Under a scheme run by the Ofca, the government subsidizes select operators that expand optical fiber networks to 235 remote villages in the New Territories. In 2020, the Ofca announced a new subsidy scheme for companies that deploy 5G technology to improve the efficiency and quality of their operations. Under the scheme, the Ofca can subsidize up to 50% of the actual cost of deploying 5G technology, subject to a cap of HK$500,000 per project. In July 2021, the government doubled funding for the subsidy scheme, from HK$50 million to HK$100 million. With this increased support for the development of 5G infrastructure, it is likely that we will see even more growth in online commerce in Hong Kong in the coming years.

Online & Offline Retail in Hong Kong
Unit: Billion USD
Online & Offline Retail Growth in Hong Kong
Unit: %
Retail Value Added (% of GDP) in Hong Kong
Unit: %
E-Commerce Sales a a % of Retail in Hong Kong
Unit: %

Competition Among E-Commerce Platforms in Hong Kong

The demographic of e-commerce platforms in Hong Kong is diverse, as there is a strong push for local e-commerce and an influx of Chinese platforms, as well as some foreign platforms. In 2023, it is likely that HKTV, TMall, and Taobao will remain the most dominant players in the Hong Kong market.

Financial Environment

Source: World Bank, Payment Providers, eMarketer

In Hong Kong, There are about 65.4% of people use credit cards, and 82.9% of people use debit cards. While there are 42.5% of people purchase on the internet, there is only 43.4% of people with online banking accounts.

% of People With Financial Accounts
Unit: %
% of People with Credit Cards
Unit: %
% of People with Debit Cards
Unit: %
% of People Exchange Through Digital Channels
Unit: %
% of People Buy Through Online Channels
Unit: %
% of People with Internet Banking Accounts
Unit: %
% of People Pay Utility Bill Online
Unit: %
E-Commerce Sales as a % of Total Retail
Unit: %

Weekly Use of E-Commerce

Source: Statista Digital Market Outlook

E-Commerce Driving Factors

Source: GWI.com (Q3, 2021)

For E-Commerce Customers in Hong KongWhat are the major driving factors to purchasing online?

% of respondents think is their main drivers
Source: Multi-select survey

Consumer Goods E-Commerce in Hong Kong

Source: GWI.com (Q3, 2021)

There is 6.46 million consumer goods e-commerce users in Hong Kong, and they spend total of around 20.56 billion USD dollars in 2021. That makes a per capita spending on consumer goods e-commerce of around  3183 USD. Also, in those e-commerce users, about 41.9% of them purchase through their mobile phone.

Market Size of Consumer Goods E-Commerce
Unit: Million USD

Digital Media E-Commerce in Hong Kong

Source: Digital Market Outlook 2021
Market Size of Digital Media E-Commerce
Unit: Million USD
  • Retail Sales & E-Commerce Penetration: eMarketer, Edge By Ascential, Euromonitor Retail Passport
  • Currency: Based on IMF Data 2022/12
  • Consumer Behavior: Statista Digital Market Outlook
  • Retail Channels: Euromonitor, Local Association, Financial Reports (Of Relevant Retailers)
  • Data Compilation: OOSGA.org
  • Analysis: OOSGA CR Team Analytics
Author: CR Team

Our consumer research practice tracks what customers spend and how they make decisions across major economies in the world.

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