Upgraded shopping districts elevate consumption in China

Updated: Jan 12, 2022 Xinhua Print
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After eight months of renovation, Block A of the Cuiwei Department Store in Beijing's Haidian district reopened in November last year. [Photo/IC]

BEIJING -- A 24-year-old department store in Beijing has been attracting customers with a brand-new look, boasting a naked-eye 3D screen, column-shaped digital displays and a sculpture at the gate bathed in multicolored lights.

After eight months of renovation, Block A of the Cuiwei Department Store in Beijing's Haidian district reopened in November last year. The new version of the store has introduced nearly 100 new brands, with a cinema, a digital bookstore and numerous restaurant outlets famous on the internet soon to open.

As a major store in Beijing's Gongzhufen shopping district, Cuiwei has become a symbol of the transformation from a traditional department store to a commercial complex with multiple service offerings to boost consumption.

Before the renovation, the store's layout was dense and the concentration of medium- and high-end brands was low, which made it difficult to meet the demands of consumers of various age groups, said Kuang Zhenxing, chairman of Beijing Cuiwei Group Co Ltd.

"The renovation has brought about the optimization and upgrading of categories and brands, and created a new form of space for social experience. It can help expand the radiation range of the Gongzhufen shopping district and attract customers of various age groups and spending powers," said Kuang.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the total retail sales of consumer goods continued to grow rapidly from January to November 2021, increasing by 13.7 percent year-on-year, while the consumer market continued its recovery trend. The stable and positive consumer demand has injected confidence into the market.

Encouraged by such circumstances, major shopping districts in multiple Chinese cities have embarked on a process of upgrading and transformation to attract commercial brands and boost consumption.

In Shanghai, a 500-meter extension of the Nanjing Road pedestrian street opened in September 2020. Apart from the infrastructure renovation, the section has attracted many time-honored brands and trendy stores, with the road becoming a venue for showcasing new outlets, products and technologies.

In the shopping district of Beijing Road in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong province, multiple buildings have been renovated, equipped with unmanned vending vehicles, a 5G livestreaming studio and other smart technologies. The renovation has contributed to the continuous growth in both customer numbers and revenue.

Figures from the management committee of Guangzhou's Beijing Road cultural core area show that 59.8 million people visited the area in the first nine months of 2021, 14 percent higher than the same period of 2019. The total business revenue during the period reached 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion), 27 percent higher than the same period of 2019.

In July 2021, China gave approval for Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Tianjin and Chongqing to take the lead in building international consumption center cities.

The implementation plans issued by the related cities to achieve this goal have included measures like the upgrading and expansion of traditional shopping districts as well as the construction of new ones.

According to Guo Wenjie, deputy director of the Beijing municipal bureau of commerce, by the end of 2021, 22 traditional shopping districts in Beijing had almost completed the process of upgrading and transformation.

At the fifth session of the 15th Beijing Municipal People's Congress that concluded on Monday, Guo said the sales revenue of major retail enterprises in 2021 rose by 10.8 percent compared with 2019, while the customer flow in major shopping districts grew by 15.1 percent compared with 2020.

Hong Tao, head of the institute of business and economics of Beijing Technology and Business University, said the renovation and upgrading of traditional shopping districts will help promote the sustainable and healthy development of the domestic market and tap the consumption potential.

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