This week in the news, China’s hai tao shoppers are purchasing goods online from overseas, Chinese spending in South Korea is expected to top $29 billion, Napa Valley is the latest hotspot for Chinese oenophiles, Christie’s and Sotheby’s auction houses are courting Chinese art collectors, and ten new shopping malls are set to open in Shenzhen.
E-commerce is booming in China with numerous international retailers setting up Chinese e-commerce sites, but many Chinese are also buying products from overseas online retailers. These online shoppers, known as “hai tao” in China, spent RMB 74.4 billion (US$12.5 billion) in 2013. Up from RMB 12 billion in 2010, spending is expected to reach RMB 140 billion (US$22.68 billion) this year. The most popular product categories bought from overseas were cosmetics and skincare products, makeup products, women’s clothing, perfume, toys, health supplements, milk powder and food supplements, and miscellaneous products for women.
With trips to South Korea continuing to rise, spending by Chinese tourists in the country is expected to exceed $29 billion (30 trillion won) by 2020. With 6.2 trillion won spent last year, spending will multiply nearly five times over the next six years. Overall retail sales in South Korea are expected to climb to 398.2 trillion won over the same time period. Chinese tourists already make up more than one-third of all visitors to South Korea. Due to the strengthening yuan giving Chinese more spending power in the country, Chinese tourists accounted for 49 percent of the total money spent by tourists in Korea. The number of Chinese tourists visiting South Korea is expected to rise 19.8 percent per year, reaching 14.9 million by 2020.
Located north of San Francisco, Napa Valley is one of the most highly regarded wine regions in the world. Wines produced there and in surrounding regions are exported to 125 countries, and China is becoming a major player in the market. Exports of wine from California to China reached $70 million in 2013, and have increased by 300 percent in the past five years. Since China’s wine market is still young, consumers tend to prefer wines with more sugar because they are easier to drink. California’s micro-climate and soil allow for the production of the wines with “flavors of ripe fruit, candied fruit with aromas of violets” that are so attractive to Chinese consumers. Cabernet Sauvignon wines are also catching on among Chinese oenophiles.
Sotheby’s and Christie’s are looking abroad for new art collectors and setting their sights on Asia. With the value of art growing and interest in art collecting increasing among the world’s wealthy, the auction houses have hired teams of experts to find and attract potential buyers. A third of the 1,550 people employed at Sotheby’s are in charge of tending to at least 9,000 top collectors. But drawing new buyers isn’t simply a matter of sending out auction catalogs anymore — it has become an intensely personal enterprise. Last May, Christie’s hosted a group of 18 new Chinese collectors in New York City. The guests were treated to guided tours through the Museum of Modern Art, VIP tickets to a local art fair, and fine dining in Christie’s Rockefeller Center ballroom.
Two new luxury malls have opened in Shenzhen, a city that wants to rival Hong Kong in its luxury spending. The Mix C mall and Wongtee Plaza are just a taste of what’s to come. Another 10 malls are expected to open in the city over the next two years. Though the new shopping centers aren’t exactly booming with activity as of yet, they may still gain considerable traction among affluent Shenzhen shoppers. The new properties may help address a key imbalance among China’s major cities — Shenzhen has only a third of the number of luxury goods stores that Beijing and Shanghai have, and just 10 percent of what Hong Kong offers. The Chinese government’s crackdown on luxury goods has led many shoppers to cross the border and spend their money in tax-free Hong Kong.
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