This week in the news, Ethan Allen opens its 75th store in China, the Chinese retail market will overtake the U.S. in retail sales by 2018, Shanghai residents have the highest disposable incomes in China, Prince William is the first British royal to visit China in nearly 30 years, and Japan is becoming a hotspot for Chinese vacationers.
American home furnishings company Ethan Allen has opened its 75th store in China in Haikou. The 25,000 square foot store, which is shared with Ethan Allen’s partner in China, Markor Home Furnishings, is the vision for the partnership’s “new generation” retail, featuring classical facades and marble interiors. A “new generation” flagship will open later this year in Beijing. The company’s further expansion in China comes as it is reinventing its brand with a focus on introducing new product lines and producing its furniture in North America, where two-thirds of its furniture is already manufactured. In the last year, Ethan Allen has opened 11 Design Centers worldwide. Next year, the brand plans to open 13 more stores with a continued focus on China.
China’s retail sales volume growth is expected to reach 7.9 percent by 2018, while North America will hit 2.6 percent and the global average only 3.4 percent. The Chinese retail market will be worth $10.3 trillion that year, while North America will only reach $5 trillion in sales. The country’s e- and m-commerce boom is a considerable contributing factor to retail growth. China has already overtaken the United States as the largest e-commerce market in the world. In 2013, American e-commerce sales amounted to $263 billion, while China’s hit $306 billion, a figure that McKinsey expects to reach $650 billion by 2020. And since 2008, online discount retailing in China has experienced yearly growth in the triple digits.
Residents of Shanghai have the highest disposable incomes in China, but the income gap between urban and rural and eastern and western China remains. With disposable income in Shanghai reaching 47,710 yuan (US$7,611), the city has passed Beijing to rank number 1 in the country. Zhejiang follows Beijing to rank in 3rd place. All three cities had at least 40,000 yuan of disposable income per capita and each had a growth rate of around 8.9 percent over the year earlier, reports China Daily. Western China’s Gansu province came in last place with only 20,804 yuan in disposable income per capita. Disposable income in urban China increased 6.8 percent year-on-year to reach 28,844 yuan per capita, almost tripling the growth rates in rural areas.
Britain’s Prince William arrived on March 1st for a four day trip to China meant to foster economic cooperation and cultural exchange between China and the United Kingdom. No member of the British royal family has visited China in almost three decades, but with China’s economic reforms during that time, which in turn opened the world to China and its people, Prince William’s goodwill tour has already been beneficial to both countries. Chinese president Xi Jinping highlighted the $80 billion trade pact struck between the two countries as well as a cooperation agreement in the sectors of finance, nuclear power, and high-speed rail. Prince William also hopes to strengthen the cultural exchange between young Chinese and British people, including sports.
Mainland China is Japan’s third largest source of overseas tourism, and the number of Chinese travelers to the country is increasing. The Japan National Tourism Organization reported that there were 2.41 million Chinese visitors to Japan in 2014, an 83-percent increase from the year before. The Japanese yen’s depreciation against the U.S. dollar and the country’s new multiple-entry visa policy are the largest contributing factors to the tourism boom. Japan has extended the validity of three-year multiple-entry visas to five years. Eligible tourists can travel throughout the country without restrictions. However, travelers must make their first destination Okinawa or one of three areas subjected to disasters — Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima — and stay there for at least one night.
image credit: shinichi higashi