By Kevin Martin, HSBC
China’s consumers are by no means the wealthiest in the world. But they are years ahead of their counterparts in many developed economies in terms of how they shop and pay for what they buy. In this, they are revolutionising the way consumer finance is conducted in the world’s second-biggest economy.
Like so many of the changes sweeping China, the uptake of internet and digital technologies has happened with head-spinning speed.
As recently as 2000, a mere 1.7 per cent of mainland Chinese were online. Now, the country has more than 700m internet users – a penetration rate of more than 50 per cent. Read more
By Bruno Lannes, Wei Yu and Jason Ding, Bain
Yoghurt is flying off the shelves in China. The value of yoghurt sold in 2015 grew by more than 20 per cent. Meanwhile, instant noodles are suffering a slump. Consumers in China bought 12.5 per cent fewer containers of instant noodles in 2015 than they did a year earlier.
It seems that China’s market for fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) now operates at two distinct speeds: slow and fast.
The engine behind two-speed China is the government’s official “new normal” policy, which is managing GDP growth at 6.5 per cent to 7 per cent, shifting focus from manufacturing to services and consumption, and pushing for innovation-led growth over investment-led growth. Read more
News that Ikea is rolling out an online shopping platform in China – its first in the Asia-Pacific region – could be a sign that Western retailers are at last reacting to rising costs and shifts in consumer shopping behaviour. But what has taken them so long?
Despite operating online models successfully in the UK and other parts of Northern Europe, it has taken Ikea seven years to get to a similar point in China. With stores in major cities including Shanghai and Beijing, Ikea has followed a similar strategy to many other Western retailers; investing in bricks and mortar outlets in China’s thriving tier 1 and 2 cities.
However, consumer demand has been growing right across China and while rising costs remain an issue, Western retailers urgently need a strategy to develop this market potential. Read more
Guo Guangchang, an entrepreneur who claims inspiration from China’s oldest sages - as well as from the “sage of Omaha”, Warren Buffett – has topped an inaugural ranking of the wealthiest Chinese investors with a personal fortune estimated at $4.5bn.
Guo (above), 48, typifies the eclectic acquisitiveness of China’s emerging cohort of investors. His company, Fosun International, this month won the longest takeover battle in French history by beating Italian investor Andrea Bonomi to take control of Club Méditerranée, the vacation organiser, after a 16-month wrestling match. Read more
In a country of rapid growth, high-speed trains and fickle tastes, Esprit, the German fashion firm, is centering its Chinese turnaround strategy on the simple concept of speed.
Taking a leaf out Zara’s book, Esprit is trying to shorten the time needed to move fashion from the design phase to clothes shops from 9 to 11 months to 3 to 4 months. Read more
It’s not yet dinner time, but Single’s Day shopping holiday in China has already broken records for cyber consumption.
Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce retailer with about 80 per cent of the total market, says it took only until 1:04pm today to sell Rmb19.1bn ($3.1bn) worth of goods, equivalent to everything it sold last year – and about twice what was sold last year on Cyber Monday in the US, the Monday after Thanksgiving.
The influx of Chinese tourists has turned Hong Kong into the great mall of China. But demand for luxury watches, jewellery and handbags has sent retail rent prices soaring. For small businesses on the edge of the prime shopping areas, staying in business is becoming ever more difficult. Josh Noble reports
Small can be beautiful. Just ask Yang Donghao, chief financial officer of Vipshop, a US-listed Chinese online discount retailer.
In a country where e-commerce is dominated by Alibaba’s Taobao online marketplace (through which small merchants can hawk their wares directly to buyers), Vipshop has found success by tapping into the hunger among those living in China’s smaller cities for branded fashion. Read more
Ikea’s flagship store in Beijing is among the group’s most heavily trafficked in the world – with more than six million visitors in 2011. But how much time and effort does it take to translate those visits into sales?
It’s an important question given that the Swedish furniture giant has this week announced plans to boost the number of stores in China from 11 to 40 over the next seven years. Read more
As China, India and Indonesia become more wealthy, more of their consumers hard-earned cash could find its way overseas.
This is not about the most wealthy fleeing their homelands or investing their money abroad – but about what the massed ranks of an emerging middle class will buy for fun. Read more
No retail sector in the world has benefitted as much from the new wealth in China as Hong Kong’s has. But in the second half of 2012 retail sales growth slumped to single digits, a far cry from the 20 per cent monthly growth rates in 2011.
However, despite this slowing growth, the Hong Kong Tourism Board revealed on Monday a 16 per cent increase in visitor arrivals to the city to 49m in 2012, with a staggering 35m coming from mainland China. Why the slump? Read more
Chinese shoppers are known for their love of luxury goods, but as the domestic economy continues to slow many are discovering a taste for thrift. The FT’s Patti Waldmeir looks at the changing attitudes to luxury shopping and the growth of boutiques specialising in second-hand designer goods.
Hong Kong’s sizeable British expat community is getting excited about next year’s opening of Topshop in the city’s central business district.
But they are not the only reason why Sir Philip Green has decided to open the British brand’s first permanent outlet in greater China. Read more
This time last year, foreign retailers were queuing to open flagship stores in Hong Kong in order to capture the millions of mainland Chinese who visit the low-tax territory each year to shop.
But this week’s data on retail sales is a reminder that the shoppers’ paradise is losing its lustre. Read more
Hong Kong investors fond of buying into IPOs have been starved of late. The market for raising capital in the city has been dead for months, prompting some potential issuers to postpone, or even just scrap plans altogether.
But on Monday, those hoping that Hong Kong might be waking up received a much-needed calorie hit with the listing of Cantonese eaterie Tsui Wah. Read more
Retail rents remain buoyant in emerging markets as an expanding middle class attracts tenants despite the global economic slowdown.
Commercial property services company, Cushman and Wakefield, surveys its international offices annually to study retail rental performance. In the year to June 2012, rents increased 4.5 per cent globally, rising in 147 of 326 locations. Read more
The once-a-year Singles Day in China is becoming a big event for both online shoppers and retailers, with some of the bigger sites such as those run by Alibaba offering 50 per cent off and seeing growth in sales explode.
The alternative to Valentine’s Day, which was started among Chinese college students and held on November 11 (as a numerical pun of four single digits) has now become mainstream – and very big. It is also causing something of a challenge for couriers and delivery companies in the mad rush. Read more
Remember those ghost malls in China? Sad, massive buildings like the New South China Mall in the southern factory town of Dongguan – the world’s largest by leasable area when it opened in 2005 – that just sit there empty for lack of tenants and customers?
According to new research on shopping centres by Knight Frank, the property consultancy, the ghost mall syndrome is spreading: overall vacancy rates in major cities have gone up this year. Read more
Walmart Stores, the retailer that arguably took Chinese goods into most American homes, might prove to be among the early indicators that sales to China’s vast middle class are starting to slow.
That is one way to understand the company’s announcement in Beijing on Thursday that it would slow the rate of its new store expansion to 100 stores over three years – down from the 50 to 60 stores a year the American retailer was opening rapidly in China. Read more
Big city Chinese tend to look down on people from anywhere other than Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. But last year nearly 9m Chinese from cities other than those three visited Hong Kong and spent the night, according to the latest Mainland Chinese Visitor Study from Nielsen – up 43 per cent last year over the previous year.
Like their big city brethren, they come to shop – but they don’t necessarily like to buy the same things. Read more