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China’s retail crossover


With the tenant mix gravitating away from straight retail towards entertainment, food and lifestyle concepts. The catalyst for change – adopting to the needs of the millennial shopper and counteracting e-commerce penetration.

Across China, retail is becoming an increasingly digital story. Traditional shopping spaces have been forced to take notice, and for good reason. China’s online retail sales accounted for approximately 40 per cent of the global market in 2016, with an estimated 731 million internet users, as reported by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

Given this backdrop, the big question for psychical retailers now is how to differentiate their services against a more agile opponent? Recently, brand crossovers are seen as a solution.

Across China, we are seeing a trend for the typical fashion retailers to expand their offer to create a destination shoppers cannot find online. For example, many brands have incorporated F&B into flagship locations. China is Muji’s largest overseas market with over 150 locations, their flagship store on Huaihai Road in Shanghai houses China’s first Cafe & Meal Muji. Further down the same road, Gucci also opened its first 1921 Gucci Restaurant on 4F of IAPM.

Local brands are also diversifying. Popular homegrown fast fashion brand Urban Revivo from South China, with over 100 stores in China, recently opened new lifestyle concept OCE. Now with 12 locations in China the lifestyle concept typically occupies over 1500sqm housing homewares, home accessories, plants, stationary as well as a varied fashion offer.

The crossover phenomenon is not only restricted to fashion brands. Korean lifestyle brand Line Friends has recently opened a new kids entertainment concept in Chengdu‘s In99. Offering slides, climbing walls, ball pits and other kids entertainment the concept has been very well received by local shoppers.

Many retailers are also utilizing “pop ups” to experiment with concept crossover. Coco Cafe on Shanghai’s Nanjing Road West took over a local Aunn Cafe, with queues hours long. The concept created a real buzz in the market as shoppers lined up to try the cosmetic / cafe concept. Magnum has also housed another successful pop up cafe in K11 recently after big success in 2016 with massive social media coverage and over 90,000 customers in a two-month period.

To differentiate against the omnipresence of digital retailers, concept crossovers will only become more mainstream in China. And with over 1.4 billion potential consumers up for grabs, we also believe this phenomenon is here to stay ensuring shoppers have a reason to visit China’s growing shopping mall portfolio.