LONDON — As COVID-19 disruptions reshuffle economic output in China, a handful of cities are performing better than the rest and attracting mega high-end retail projects amid the strong rebound seen in recent months. Here, WWD lists six new luxury hot spots worth the attention of brands looking to expand their retail footprint beyond Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
One of the four municipalities under Beijing’s direct control, Chongqing is expected to surpass Guangzhou to become the fourth wealthiest city in China this year. The cities’ fashion retail landscape is fast catching up with its neighboring city Chengdu. Jiefangbei, Chaotianmen, Yangjiaping and Jiangbeizui are four major shopping areas that offer premium brands inside high-end malls such as Chongqing Times Square, Raffles City, The Mixc and Chongqing International Finance Square.
An affordable housing price and a laid-back lifestyle have made Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan, a luxury hotspot since the opening of Chengdu IFS and Sino-Ocean Taikoo Li in 2015. The city’s full-on street style has also made headlines lately as it went viral on TikTok. But its luxury retail landscape is about to change again, as Beijing’s SKP revealed this June that it’s opening a Chengdu mall at the CBD Jiaozi Park. The mall, which is due to be completed in 2023, will have 3.6 million square feet of retail space and host more than 1,000 brands.
SKP is also entering Kunming, the center of China’s southwest Yunnan province, which shares land borders with Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. Known as “the city of flowers” due to its yearlong mild climate, and a melting pot for China’s minority groups, Kunming’s Spring City 66, which is developed by Hang Lung Properties and opened last August, and the local player Gingko department stores offer a range of brands, while Junfa Chunzhiyan, the tallest building in town under construction and the upcoming SKP mall will further boost Kunming’s fashion presence in the next few years.
Sanya has figured perennially over the last few decades as one of China’s top holiday destinations, and now is the only duty-free shopping area where the luxury-loving Chinese consumer can go due to the pandemic. On June 1, the central government revealed its plan to further develop the Hainan economy. Among the extensive measures is to more than triple the per-person duty-free shopping allowance from 30,000 renminbi to 100,000 renminbi. The result was long queues in front of every shop inside the world’s largest duty-free mall, Sanya Haitang Bay, and sky-high hotel prices in the city.
Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, is the biggest city in central China. Despite being ground zero for COVID-19, a few premium malls are on the way to boost the city’s fashion credentials. Wuhan International Plaza is the leader of luxury shopping at the moment, but Adrian Cheng’s K11 has just opened its doors there this June, and Hang Lung Properties’ Plaza 66 and China Resources Holdings’ The Mixc resumed construction as the pandemic subsided.
A short train ride away from Wuhan is Changsha, the provincial capital of Hunan and the birthplace of Chairman Mao. The arrival of IFS in 2018 has helped the city rejuvenate its Wuyi Square shopping district. Other premium malls include ID mall, Hisense Plaza and Pinghetang department stores. The city is also home to China’s most influential entertainment powerhouse, Hunan Television. It means that the city is regularly frequented by top Chinese stars, who have a lot to spend.