Petite Hong Kong store sells at record price

HONG KONG (AFP) - A tiny Hong Kong store measuring just 130 sq m has sold for more than US$23 million (S$29 million), as prices reach astronomical levels in a city ranked the most expensive for retailers in the world.

The southern Chinese territory was accorded the title by commercial real estate giant CBRE in February, as prime rents surpassed those of the most exclusive addresses in New York, London and Paris.

The shop, located in Hong Kong's retail heart of Causeway Bay, sold at a rate of HK$1.38 million (S$225,000) per square foot, breaking a previous Hong Kong record of HK$932,000 per square foot, the South China Morning Post reported on Friday.

"Buyers probably think that Hong Kong retail prices are still on the rise," CBRE Executive Director for Retail Services Joe Lin said, adding the buyer may have thought the store was a good investment.

Mainland Chinese tourists will continue to visit the city in large numbers and will "keep the rent at a very high level", Mr Lin explained.

He also said the ground-level shop, whose current tenant sells electronic appliances, was bought at such a high price because of the shop's prime location in the district.

Lined with luxury stores, the area is near major shopping malls and attracts a large number of locals and mainland Chinese tourists.

Government figures show that visitors from mainland China accounted for 75 per cent of the city's tourist arrivals in 2013.

Retail rents in Hong Kong's prime locations stood at US$4,334 per square foot last year, beating runner up New York at US$3,300 per square foot by a large margin, CBRE said.