Anti-China and pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong last year led store owners to close and mainland tour groups to cancel bookings. In addition, China's slowing economy and President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption and austerity campaigns have made Chinese shoppers reluctant to splash out.
Although still the largest destination for Chinese tour groups, Hong Kong could be in danger of losing its lead to regional rivals such as Thailand and South Korea, as well as mainland cities, such as Shenzhen and Shanghai. Mainland Chinese travelers to Hong Kong last year grew by the slowest pace since 2009, according to Bloomberg Intelligence data. Retail sales fell in four of the five months through May, with jewelry, watches and other high-end gifts the worst hit.