China Department Stores

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China Distribution & Trading

Issue 61

July 2009

Department stores in China, 2009
I. Overview II. Operation modes of department stores in China III. Developments of market players IV. Challenges V. Recent developments VI. Conclusion 10 11 19 • 6 • 2 4

• • Department stores in China have enjoyed many years of boom, achieving a compound annual growth rate of 30% between 2003 and 2008. Sales momentum for department stores has deteriorated towards the end of 2008 as consumer cut back on discretionary and luxury spending; but there are recent signs of picking-up growth.

Operation modes of department stores in China
• Department stores operators in China generate revenue from 1) commissions on concessionaire sales, 2) merchandise direct sales, 3) rental income from store tenants, and 4) management fee etc. Commissions from concessionaire sales are the predominant source of income.

Developments of market players
• • The competitive landscape for department stores in China is highly fragmented with no significant market leader. Foreign players tend to have wider national footprints and they mainly target the country’s high-income class. Domestic department stores operators mainly focus on regional markets.

• Department stores operators in China are often said to be acting like landlords – renting floor space to concessionaires or tenants and paying little attention to differentiation and brand management. Undifferentiated players have resorted to price competition to boost sales, hurting companies’ same-store-sales growth and eroding their margins. Other formats such as specialty stores and retail cannibalization are posing great challenges to department stores.

• •

Recent developments
• • • • Lower-tier cities are the expansion focus. Department store operators focus on upgrading and differentiation. There is growing attention to transform merchandising practices. Export-oriented manufacturers pay growing attention to domestic market brings new potential for department store operators to expand merchandise mix. Department stores operators are grasping attention in the capital market. Many department stores operators have embarked on real estate strategies. Some department stores have explored the “click-and-mortar” model. Government encourages department stores players to enhance service levels and improve operation environment through awarding players with quality services. 1

Li & Fung Research Centre 13/F, LiFung Centre 2 On Ping Street Shatin, Hong Kong Tel: (852) 2635 5563 Fax: (852) 2635 1598 E-mail:

• • • •

Li & Fung Research Centre Member of the Li & Fung Group

China Distribution & Trading
Issue 61 July 2009

Department stores in China, 2009
Department stores have long been one of the major retailing channels in China; they are the chief distribution channel for discretionary consumption items such as branded apparel, cosmetics, jewelry and watches, etc. In the eyes of many Chinese consumers, shopping in department stores represent quality lifestyle and status. For years, many consumer brands have viewed department stores as their top-of-choice in building their recognition in China. As Chinese consumers become growingly affluent, department stores in China has enjoyed years of rapid development in recent years. However, growth momentum of China’s department stores sales has slowed towards the end of 2008; dampened consumer spirits amid global financial crisis, increasingly fierce competition and immature management mindsets all pose challenges to China’s department stores operators. These have prompted department stores operators in China to evolve to stay competitive. Over the past few months in 2009, as China’s economy begins to demonstrate stabilized growth, sales momentum of department stores has picked up again. We believe, long-term prospect for department...
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