31 May 2012
New retail landscape of China’s Bohai Rim region
Foreign-funded supermarkets and retailers have actively set up outlets in the Bohai Rim in recent years. Imported mid- to high-end clothing, shoes, cosmetics and other consumer goods are readily available in this region. Meanwhile, local retailers have quickened their expansion and brought their operations up to date with modern management methods and services to increase their competitiveness in the hope of seizing the growing mid- to high-end markets.
On the other hand, the larger local retailing groups and foreign-funded enterprises are actively putting up new commercial blocks in the traditional commercial districts and building new shopping centres in the new commercial districts in a bid to provide consumers with more diversified shopping and entertainment experience. These shopping centres have not only injected new vitality to traditional commercial districts, but have also given a boost to the growth of new retail hubs. Hong Kong companies interested in entering the Bohai Rim market should better acquaint themselves with such developments in the region.
- New and old retailing hot spots make up Qingdao's “four major commercial districts”
The so-called “four major commercial districts” are among the most developed shopping areas in Qingdao. The Zhongshan Road commercial district with old European-style architecture is the oldest shopping street in the city. In spite of challenges from the newer commercial districts, large shopping centres on Zhongshan Road, including Qingdao Parkson and the Zhongshan Underground Shopping City, remain popular to the general consumers with their trendy goods. Redevelopment of the surrounding old town areas has also given new life to the once quiet Zhongshan Road, making it a popular shopping area for local people and tourists alike.
The Taidong pedestrian street is the most popular retail area in Qingdao. Although this street is only about 1km long, it is lined with famous retail shops and shopping centres, including Wal-Mart Supermarket, Wanda Plaza, Baixin Shoes and Liqun. With Liqun stepping up its retailing of electrical appliances and with the mushrooming of Gome, Suning and other mobile phone and electrical appliance stores, mobile phones and cutting-edge home appliances have become dominant products in this shopping area and are attracting large numbers of young working people and students.
The Dongbu (Eastern) commercial district next to the Qingdao Olympics Sailing Base has become Qingdao's most upmarket shopping area in spite of its short history of just six to seven years. Since the opening of the Jusco Shopping Centre a few years ago, Carrefour, Sunshine Department Store, Mykal Department Store and Hisense Plaza have successively moved into the area, bringing with them luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermes and Gucci. Surrounded by office blocks, Dongbu is a popular shopping area for local high-income white-collar employees and their families as well as tourists.
The Licun commercial district is the commercial and trading centre of northern Qingdao. The three department stores in this district, namely, Weekly, North Trade and Likelai, mainly target middle-income residents in the neighbourhood with affordable mass appeal commodities. With the extension of the Qingdao Metro directly to Licun, this commercial district has drawn the attention of larger retailers and famous brands. The launch of the Wanda Commercial Building, Weidong City Plaza, Inzone Plaza and other new commercial projects in the area has also given a boost to the development of the Licun commercial district in the direction of mid- to high-end retailing.
Although retailers in these four major commercial districts each has its own market positioning, with the gradual opening of the Qingdao Metro, getting from one shopping centre to another becomes much easier. Urban development has also given rise to other commercial districts, including the Laoshan and Beibu (Northern) commercial districts. Their emergence has not only intensified competition between different commercial districts, but also provided consumers with a wider choice and uplifted the taste and demand of consumers in general.
- Dalian commercial districts focus on trendy and tourism consumption
Qingniwan and Xi’an Road are two major commercial districts in Dalian. The Qingniwan commercial district, which has the longest history and is more mature, has continuously upgraded its retailing facilities in the last decade based on the planning of the city government. With traditional retail shops standing next to more recent buildings like Century City and New-Mart Shopping Mall, Qingniwan has always been one of the busiest shopping areas of Dalian. Xi’an Road is home to three traditional department stores, including Parkson, Jinhui and No.2 Department Store. The opening of the Fujia Xintiandi Plaza, Roosevelt Tianxing International Shopping Centre and other new shopping centres in recent years on this basis has made this area a shopping hot spot for salary earners.
What merits attention is that Dalian, as the gateway port of Liaoning and even Northeastern China as a whole, is the meeting point of businesspeople and traders from Northeastern China and the neighbouring provinces. Consumers here are more sensitive to international trends. Since Dalian is also a popular city in the region for tourists, retailers in the city's commercial districts are targeting white-collar employees with higher spending power and entrepreneurs in the region with more upmarket venues.
The Century City in the Qingniwan area houses Asia's famous Pacific Department Store, which attracts fashionable white-collar employees and tourists with high-end brands. New-Mart Shopping Mall opened by the Dashang Group is a general department store targeting young consumers and the masses. The Roosevelt Tianxing International Shopping Centre on Xi’an Road is home to Mykal Department Store, Gome Appliances, Dalian Cinema City, Zara and other famous brands and appeals to high-end consumers and tourists as a rather upmarket shopping centre.
Many domestic and foreign-funded retailers are taking their business to other younger or smaller commercial districts. The Changchun Road commercial district with a relatively short history is a case in point. Wal-Mart Supermarket, Parkson Department Store and Olympic Shopping Plaza on this road provide residents and office workers in the surrounding areas with mid- to high-end shopping and entertainment facilities. The Peace Plaza commercial district centres round the Peace Plaza, which houses Parkson Department Store, Tesco Supermarket, Gome Electrical Appliances, Watson’s personal store and other chain stores. The area is also famous for its restaurants. Like Qingniwan and Xi’an Road, these commercial districts provide fairly high-end shopping, leisure and entertainment facilities to tap the growing purchasing power of local residents and tourists.
- New look of Jinan’s old commercial districts
Jinan is a famous historical city. However, the commercial districts in its old urban area are changing with time and have developed into modern commercial areas in recent years. Quancheng Road, the first of the four leading commercial districts in Jinan, is the oldest commercial street in the city. With the city landmark Quancheng Square and key tourist spot Baotu Spring in its vicinity, Quancheng Road is also the most mature commercial district in Jinan. It is the centre of attraction for a vast number of medium- to high-end consumers and tourists visiting Jinan. In recent years, the opening of department stores and supermarkets such as Inzone, Guihe Plaza, Wal-Mart and Suning, as well as the completion of Hong Kong-invested Hang Lung Plaza, a large shopping centre housing shopping, leisure, entertainment and trendy lifestyle under one roof, have ushered in an era of modern shopping to this commercial district.
Daguanyuan is the most traditional commercial district in Jinan. People’s Department Store and Renfang underground mall, which offer value-for-money products, attract people with average income level. Wanda Plaza, a commercial complex newly completed in recent years comprising a five-star hotel, offices, serviced apartments and a shopping centre, has injected new energy into this traditional commercial district.
In Honglou Commercial District, known as the second Quancheng Road in Jinan, retailers including Inzone Department Store (Honglou Store), RT-Mart, Gome Electrical Appliances and branded fashion stores, restaurants and entertainment establishments abound. These retailers mainly target the mid-range market comprising mature consumers in neighbouring communities and college students in the district. This commercial district has been developing rapidly in recent years to become a core commercial and residential area in the Eastern Urban District.
The Western Market Commercial District, with Hualian Commercial Mansion and Jiahua Shopping Plaza at its centre and smaller shopping malls and garment cities in its surrounding areas, is a small-commodity retail and wholesale base. Other emerging commercial districts, such as Beiyuan Avenue Commercial District and Yingxiongshan (Hero Hill) Commercial District, are becoming more modern following the opening of new supermarkets and shopping malls. They are gradually becoming a “new driving force” in Jinan’s retail market absorbing the purchasing power of consumers in surrounding areas and commercial areas.
- Commercial districts in Shenyang
Shenyang is the commercial and trading centre of China’s northeastern region. Zhongjie (Zhong Street), one of the two core commercial districts in the city, is hailed as the “No. 1 Commercial Street in Northeastern China”. With a history of over 300 years, Zhongjie is well-known for being the first commercial pedestrian street in China and one of “Top 10 Famous Commercial Streets of China”. In order to strengthen the operation of the commercial district and meet the needs for modern consumption, the local government is currently upgrading the supporting facilities of Zhongjie and plans to lengthen the street from 1,500 m to 3,500 m. Large shopping malls on the street include Shenyang Commercial City, Shenyang Xinglong Happy Family Mall and New-Mart, while domestic and foreign well-known brands such as Nike, Metersbonwe and Kappa have all established a foothold here. Century-old shops such as Hendry Watches and Cuihua Gold Jewellery Store are also found here. As Zhongjie is next to the Shenyang Imperial Palace Museum, therefore attracting foreign tourists to shop in this commercial district.
Taiyuan Street, located right next to the Shenyang railway station, is another core commercial district in the city. It is positioned as a chic commercial street targeting medium to high income earners. Traditional department stores in the commercial district include Zhongxing Shenyang Commercial Building, Hualian Commercial Building and Wuzhou Chuntian. In recent years, following the entry of Japan’s Isetan Department Store and the opening of mainland fashion specialty stores, more consumers have been attracted to Taiyuan Street. Today, the Taiyuan Street Commercial District has extended to the junction of Taiyuan Street and Zhonghua Road, where Gome Electrical Appliances, Wal-Mart and Parkson have opened business, while New World Department Store of Hong Kong has also opened in the vicinity of Zhonghua Road. All these have made the commercial district around Taiyuan Street and Zhonghua Road even more bustling.
Beixing Commercial District, with Changjiang North Street as its core, is one of the oldest commercial streets in Shenyang. Leading retailers on this street include Kingson Department Store under Dashang Group and Beijing Hualian. Lining Changjiang Street are a great variety of small shops offering lower-end products. In recent years, an underground commercial street was built on Changjiang Street. The shops there mainly sell products sought after by young people, adding a breath of fresh air to Beixing Commercial District.
Other commercial districts in Shenyang include Xita (West Tower), which is rich in Korean style. There are many shops in this commercial district selling all kinds of Korean products. There are also Korean-style restaurants, entertainments and beauty parlours. Wu’ai Market (see next section for details) and Nanta offer a great variety of clothing, mass merchandise, beddings, toys, luggage and bags, snacks, small home appliances and even motorcycles in the form of specialised retail and wholesale marts. Their influence radiates to cover neighbouring cities and even all the three northeastern provinces. As for Beizhan (North Station), it is a luxury goods commercial district in Shenyang. It mainly targets consumers who are more mature, have steady income and are high flyers in society.