With COVID-19 and ecommerce, high-end malls thrive while older shopping centers die

Wangfujing pedestrian street in Beijing, China, on December 20, 2019. Xinhua/Ju Huanzong. Data released by the China Commerce Association For General Merchandise (CCAGM) reveals that some of China’s high-end shopping malls experienced significant sales increases in 2021: Beijing SKP 北京SKP: 24 billion yuan ($3.77 billion), year-on-year increase of 35%.

Nanjing Deji Plaza 南京德基广场: 20 billion yuan ($3.14 billion), year-on-year increase of 28%.

Beijing International Trade Mall 北京国贸商城: 20 billion yuan ($3.14 billion), year-on-year increase of 25%.

Hangzhou Tower 杭州大厦: 10 billion yuan ($1.57 billion), year-on-year increase of 25%.

Separately, Hexun reported that Beijing’s more than 100-year-old Wangfujing 王府井 shopping street is also booming: More than 20 trendy tea and coffee shops opened there in the last year, and just in the last quarter a range of new brand stores appeared such as BVLGARI, Cartier, and HUBLOT.

However, many malls across the country are closing their doors. A report published today by Winshang Data 赢商网 identified at least 30 independent department stores that have closed down since 2020, listing large and prominent stores and malls in China’s cities — some renowned landmarks — that have all disappeared since 2020 because of poor performance. The casualties of this ongoing process are malls like Nanjing Ceramics Mall 南京陶瓷商场, once a gathering place for high-end porcelain shoppers in Nanjing, which closed its doors on March 29 after 69 years.

Business in the morning.

A lot happens in China’s economy when you’re sleeping. Luckily there’s ChinaEdge – a free newsletter you can read in less than 2 minutes, delivered at 9am ET daily. The context: The last three years of COVID-19 have been very difficult times for shopping malls and department stores, which mostly rely on walk-in clientele. And ecommerce has fundamentally altered the shopping habits of Chinese consumers. […]

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