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  • MAP Asia Pacific Ltd

As travel resumes, China's luxury shoppers ask: Paris or Hainan?

SHANGHAI, Jan 5 (Reuters) - An end to China's travel curbs this month is expected to revive demand in the global luxury retail market, which has been starved of mainland visitors for three years, but many consumers now see more reasons to do their high-end shopping locally.

Share prices of global luxury brands jumped last week after Beijing announced it would loosen travel restrictions from Jan. 8, effectively allowing Chinese tourists to once again flock to global shopping hubs from Paris to Tokyo.

However, analysts and luxury brands warn they are unlikely see an immediate return to pre-pandemic levels of Chinese travellers with airlines yet to fully resume operations and local prices falling. Just as importantly, big luxury brands are now investing more in the shopping experience in China.

One Shanghai shopper, surnamed Mao, said that she had visited boutiques around the world for years, but now believes she gets the best service in China.

"When I would go to Paris, I couldn't ask the Paris sales people to keep a bag for me, but now here we can," she said.

Before the pandemic closed borders early in 2020, Chinese shoppers bought 70% of their luxury goods abroad.

Under pandemic travel curbs, China's domestic luxury sales boomed, doubling to 471 billion yuan ($68.25 billion) from 2019 to 2021, according to Bain & Co. Even so, Chinese consumers' share of the global market fell to 21% in 2021 from 25% in 2019.


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