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New global consumption metropolis rises

By WANG YING in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2021-10-20 10:35
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The double open park at Taikoo Li Qiantan, a retail complex in Shanghai. [PHOTO BY CHEN YUYU/FOR CHINA DAILY]

'First stores' increase rapidly, help introduce fresh brands, drive retail market growth in East China's Shanghai

Accelerated opening of "first stores" and the attendant emergence of new brands are helping Shanghai to build itself into a global consumption metropolis.

The first-store economy, which has been growing for a few years now, is now becoming a key driver of the retail market, experts said.

First store refers to the first of many stores set up by a brand in a geography, which could be a city, province, country, region, continent or the entire world. Typically, a first store marks the first physical appearance of a brand in a specific market.

The category includes launch of a new format of old stores showcasing an innovative business model or a trending retail philosophy-concept stores, experience stores or flagship stores. Retail and catering take the lion's share of Shanghai's first stores.

In Shui On Land's newly opened Hall of the Sun, about 30 percent of brands made their debut in Shanghai, 40 percent appeared in north Shanghai for the first time, and 70 percent were first stores across Hongkou district.

With 180,000 square meters of commercial space, the shopping mall located near the North Bund in Hongkou district became a landmark in north Shanghai along with Shui On Land's existing commercial projects including Hall of the Moon and Hall of the Stars.

"By introducing China's first stores, regional debut stores as well as flagship shops of prime brands, we are providing consumers a destination that should not be missed and is worthy of sharing with each other," said Chen Chun, director of commercial business with Hub & Ruihong Xincheng, both under Shui On Land's wholly owned subsidiary China Xintiandi.

According to Chen, in addition to all the existing firsts, the mall would welcome Muji meal solution supermarket's debut in China in November.

Also in Shanghai, across the city's iconic Huangpu River, Taikoo Li Qiantan, a joint-venture retail complex, celebrated the debut of the Taikoo Li project, known for its open-plan and lane-driven architectural design.

The project features a double-open park concept, a wide expanse of open green space and lanes across the ground level and rooftop, connected by an 80-meter-long scenic bridge overlooking the Huangpu River.

Situated at the heart of Shanghai's Pudong New Area, the 120,000 sq m floor area project is home to about 250 shops. These include three global first stores, 21 first China stores, 18 making their debut in Shanghai, and 53 brands launching their first stores in Pudong, said Tim Blackburn, chief executive of Swire Properties.

"With the opening of Taikoo Li Qiantan, our retail portfolio in the Chinese mainland now represents 66 percent of our overall completed retail GFA (gross floor area). We are very excited to further our ambitions and continue expanding our presence here with way of more unique popular retail destinations."

The debut stores have given consumers an opportunity to explore firsthand experiences, adding to their appeal as retail destinations, which is very important amid the growing homogenized trend of shopping malls, department stores and other retail destinations, industry experts said, explaining the economic drive behind the boom of opening first stores in major Chinese cities.

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