Liz Flora of Jing Daily ponders where China’s luxury shoppers will be headed this Chinese New Year.
With Chinese New Year a little over one week away, Chinese travelers are gearing up for the first of two annual “Golden Week” vacation periods. Although most of these holiday makers will rush to crowded tourist traps in mainland China, a significant (and growing) number will venture abroad with sightseeing – and shopping – on the agenda.
With the domestic luxury market in China still hitting the snooze button, recent stats indicates no lessening of demand for luxury goods among Chinese shoppers. As in recent years, while luxury flagships in China remain glorified showrooms, locations in Japan, South Korea, Europe, and the US continue to see a steady stream of eager Chinese tourist-shoppers.
According to a new report by the Chinese Fortune Character Institute, 76 percent of all Chinese luxury spending now takes place outside China. (More, it must be pointed out, than Bain & Co.’s estimation of around 70 percent.)
So where are these big-spending luxury shoppers headed for Chinese New Year 2015? As in recent years, neighboring Asian countries, and Hong Kong and Macau, will receive the majority of outbound Chinese travelers.
“ 76% of all Chinese luxury spending now takes place outside China ”
However, we’re likely to see numbers down from last year in Hong Kong, with 38 percent of mainland Chinese respondents in a recent CLSA survey saying their interest in the city had waned in the past year due to political strife and broader anti-mainland sentiment.
Macau, too, has been hit hard in recent months, with the territory’s formerly packed high-stakes tables largely deserted as Chinese gamblers move on to greener pastures.
Meanwhile, interest in Japan has skyrocketed, with the country reporting 2.2 million mainland Chinese arrivals in 2014, an 82 percent surge year-over-year. Korea, too, remains a popular attraction, with Ctrip reporting the country to be its top travel destination for Chinese travelers last year.
“ For those Chinese tourists heading further afield, the US still remains a top draw ”
For those Chinese tourists heading further afield, the US still remains a top draw. Mainland travelers continue to flood into California, which reported over 800,000 Chinese visitors in 2013, and New York recently announced that Chinese arrivals grew 500 percent between 2009 and 2014.
The attractiveness of other international destinations is largely determined by economic status. According to the Hurun Report, China’s millionaires are big on Australia, with France, the Maldives, Dubai, and Switzerland following as their favorite destinations.
As always, different Chinese tourist-shopper demographics head abroad for different reasons. Be they bargain-hunts and tax-free luxury shopping among middle-class independent travelers or group tour participants, or ultra-wealthy tourists looking for R&R in France or Napa Valley. Whatever their motivations, the end result is the same: luxury brands that are prepared are the most likely to cash in.
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