Business / Economy

Affordability to boost retail trade prospects

By ZHU WENQIAN/ZHANG MIN (China Daily) Updated: 2015-05-29 09:11

Local shoppers will be in for a treat in Tianjin with a greater selection of products, as well as an influx of foreign brands.

Consumers will be able to buy bonded imported goods at the Tianjin European Trade Center, which is located at the city's airport area, after the launch of the China (Tianjin) Pilot Free Trade Zone.

As the first duty-free outlet at the FTZ, it will sell products directly ordered from European factories with customs supervision. They are likely to be between 20 to 70 percent cheaper than the same brands in shopping malls.

"The center will have its grand opening in the second half of this year," Ling Chaoxiang, chairman of the European Trade Center, said. "We will have several luxury discount stores, European imported food outlets, home furnishing stores, gift shops and restaurants."

So far, the "demonstration stores" have reported sales revenue of 20 million yuan ($3.22 million) after attracting about 200,000 shoppers.

"Once we (officially) open, we will also introduce various art events, exhibitions and a festival of folk culture," Ling said. "The mall will become a comprehensive center of wholesale, retail and e-commerce."

Wang, a white-collar employee who spoke on condition of anonymity, has been working at the Tianjin Airport Area, which is part of the FTZ, for three years.

He often goes shopping there and found that many goods are cheaper than those sold at duty-free shops at airports.

"Besides, the center sells a lot of the latest items, which are launched simultaneously in China and Europe," Wang said. "They were on the market much faster than those high-end department stores and duty-free shops at airports."

As part of China's second batch of free trade zones, Tianjin will stimulate growth in the country's cross-border e-commerce platforms.

Liu Jiangang, deputy secretary-general of Tianjin, said consumers can buy imported goods online. By doing that, they will pay even cheaper prices, as overseas companies will deliver goods free of charge to their homes.

The central business district in the Binhai New Area will launch a cross-border e-commerce platform with a whole supply chain service. This will promote the sales of luxury products, childcare products, food and wines, according to the district's management office.

But there are other benefits apart from cheaper brands. The FTZ will create thousands of new jobs with numerous companies poised to open there.

In the first quarter, the Tianjin Airport Area saw 764 companies registered, a 100 percent jump year-on-year. During the same period, there was a 160 percent surge in registration from foreign firms.

Han Xiaoai, 27, has recently started work as a bank clerk in the central business district, which is part of the FTZ. "The area still lacks shopping malls and entertainment spots, but I feel it has become increasingly popular," Han said. "I have a very good salary package, and I met my boyfriend here. We plan to settle down in the neighborhood."

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