International fast-fashion brands continue their aggressive expansion on the mainland, changing the landscape of the country’s retail property sector.
“H&M has around 250 stores in China and is actively seeking space for 80 new stores this year; Zara has its sights set on 60 new stores and Uniqlo plans another 100, having already opened 100 last year,” said Rebecca Tibbott, head of retail leasing at JLL Shanghai, in a report released Thursday.
New brands are also emerging. US-based Forever 21 has opened nine stores and has plans for a further 50. Gap has opened 32 stores since 2013 and Banana Republic is planning to enter the market next year, according to JLL.
Property consultants said these international brands, which have increased their presence on the mainland since last decade, are expanding aggressively as purchasing power as well as brand awareness continue to rise across the nation.
On the other hand, the luxury market has shown signs of fatigue in the wake of a slowing economy and the anti-corruption campaign.
Even though the fashion property landscape is unlikely to change in the short term, property consultants say landlords, in some cases, have started preserving prominent store spaces for fast-fashion brands. Earlier, the most prominent stores in a mainland mall would be preserved for luxury brands but that market has become saturated. On the other hand, international fast fashion brands are quickly gaining a foothold, said JLL, with the likes of Zara, H&M and Forever 21 giving top-tier luxury names a run for their money.
“Landlords of shopping malls need them to boost traffic and in some cases, accommodate fast-fashion brands next to luxury retailers,” the JLL report said.
“To get traffic into malls now, landlords need fast fashion. In some cases they’re asking fast fashion brands and luxury retailers to sit side by side.”
Property consultants believe the trend will continue in the next three to five years. “By that time, you will see Uniqlo everywhere, you will see Zara everywhere,” said Carlby Xie, director of Research at Colliers China.
Read more at South China Morning Post.