Dining Landscape Reshaped by Changing Consumer Behavior in Hong Kong

October 30, 2023 | Hong Kong
Mastercard Economics Institute Reveals Mealtime Spend Trends in Key Districts

There is no denying that the pandemic changed Hong Kong’s dining scene – best known for its culinary offerings that blend Chinese and international cuisine. With borders reopened and social restrictions lifted since the fourth quarter of 2022, the city’s culinary map is reflecting Hong Kong’s economic revival and shifts in consumer behavior and preferences.

Aiming to give business leaders the insights needed to make thoughtful decisions with better outcomes, the Mastercard Economics Institute recently revealed its analysis of dining trends in Hong Kong as the latest part of its Mastercard Economic Clock series that has also covered New York City, Australia and London. The study focuses on changes in the distribution of dining spend in the city’s key commercial and residential districts such as Central and Western, Wan Chai and Yau Tsim Mong during lunch and dinner hours from 2019 to the first half of 2023.

During the first half of 2023, in-restaurant dining and takeaway orders increased, with weekend restaurant visits nearing pre-pandemic levels. Restaurant receipts in the first half of 2023 were at 91 percent of levels in the first half of 2019, according to government data. The mealtime share distribution across the city also normalized to a large extent, with Yau Tsim Mong and Eastern districts continuing to see a slightly lower share of mealtime spend compared to four years ago.

David Mann, Chief Economist, AP and MEA, Mastercard, said, “The dining landscape in Hong Kong certainly went through a significant transformation due to the pandemic, leading to changes in residents’ dining habits and preferences. The lifting of social distancing measures, the return to office, and the influx of tourists who, post-pandemic, have a stronger preference to spend on ‘experiences’ such as dining, relative to retail, all support a further recovery in the CBD dining scene in Hong Kong.”

Lunch: Hybrid Work Trend Shifts Spend to Residential Districts

The study offered more insight into how hybrid work has shifted dining spend trends. Comparing the first half of 2023 with the annual averages of 2022 and 2019, residential districts such as Tai Po and Sham Shui Po saw an increase in lunchtime spend share at the expense of key business districts like Central and Western as well as Wan Chai, Eastern and popular dining area, Yau Tsim Mong. Remote work may have also caused the Eastern district to experience the highest percentage increase in office vacancy rates compared to other areas since 20191, as businesses relocated to lower cost locations or even moved to other cities, resulting in reduced demand for lunchtime meals in the district.

Looking at the general popularity of various districts for dining, the report shows that after most workers returned to the office, the Central and Western district and Wan Chai district in 2022 and 2023 combined accounted for a quarter of total lunchtime spend with shares of 20 percent and 5 percent respectively. Outside the central business district (CBD), districts like Yau Tsim Mong, Eastern, and Kwai Tsing were next in line for lunchtime share at 13 percent, 11 percent and nine percent respectively.2

Dinner: Preferences Shift Across Districts in 2023 Relative to 2019

Unlike lunchtime, where returning to office influenced spend share based on proximity to workplaces, dinnertime should reflect shifting preferences more clearly.

During the first half of 2023, Sha Tin district saw the greatest increase in dinnertime dining share of 1.4 percent relative to the rest of the economy. It was followed by Kwai Tsing district at 1.1 percent and the Sai Kung, Tai Po and Yuen Long districts, each at 0.8 percent. On the other end, the top three districts to fall out of favor were Eastern at -1.7 percent, Yau Tsim Mong at -1.2 percent and Tsuen Wan at -1.1 percent.

The absence of tourists is one of the key reasons behind the decline in Yau Tsim Mong. Meanwhile, Sai Kung – considered the “back garden of Hong Kong” with its fishing villages, picturesque scenery, hiking trails and seafood restaurants – grew in popularity in 2022 and 2023 relative to 2019, particularly at dinner when restrictions were tightened in the first quarter of 2022, as Hong Kong residents gravitated to nature-related activities amid the absence of nightlife in the city.

Weekend Dining Hotspots

As with any city, there are hotspots where patrons flock to during the weekend. In Hong Kong, these areas become apparent from how a particular district’s share of spending relative to other districts rises sharply on weekends to outperform the rest of the week. These hotspots tend to be away from main business districts, which typically see a decline in footfall on weekends. Popular hotspots have broadly been consistent over 2019, 2022 and 2023. They include areas like Sai Kung, Tai Po, Yuen Long, Tuen Mun and Sha Tin districts.

Meanwhile, some districts have seen a relative loss in dining popularity on weekends in 2022 and 2023 relative to 2019. This shift is reflected in a smaller increase in dining share attracted to the district on weekends versus weekdays, which occurs regardless of overall decreases in share across the whole week. These districts include Kowloon City, Wong Tai Sin, Tsuen Wan and Sham Shui Po.

More insights about mealtime spend trends across Hong Kong’s key districts can be found here.


The study represents Mastercard Economics Institute’s analysis of aggregated and anonymized switched volumes on the Mastercard network. 

1 Source: Hong Kong Property Market Monitor by JLL

2 Mastercard Economics Institute analysis of aggregated & anonymized switched volumes across Hong Kong till Q2 2023. Nominal Hong Kong dollars unadjusted for FX

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