For better or for worse? China’s retail landscape undergoes significant transformations in 2023

What Happened: After a period of continuous turbulence, China’s retail market is displaying promising signs of improvement. 

According to marketing consultancy GlobalData, China’s retail market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of more than 9% by 2026. The exponential increase will see a portion of the country’s domestic brands thrive, a shift driven by local players paying more attention to Chinese consumer demands and improving their cooperation with suppliers.

The Jing Take: Chinese shoppers are pivoting away from global brands as native players begin to confidently deliver on product quality, personalization, and market positioning — three areas they struggled with previously. 

But not every industry is documenting such aggressive growth. Despite increasing support for the domestic brand market, sectors such as travel, auto, and homes are struggling to recover to pre-pandemic 2019 spending levels. For example, according to The Straits Times, the tourism segment is experiencing a concerning dip in numbers, with the average spending per trip recorded to be around 16% lower than in 2019.

This disparity demonstrates where local spenders are choosing to invest their money, as well as a weaker demand for certain services. It also shows how the country is yet to achieve a full economic rebound following years of store closures and tumultuous financial hurdles. 

As a result, local economists are calling for better monetary and fiscal stimulus, with countrywide media channels also backing these expectations for support. Speculation as to whether local brands could face overcapacity as a result of the market boom is also circulating. 

Whether China’s retail market can fully recover from past obstacles is unclear. But hope remains for smaller businesses across the country to find success through reclaiming consumer confidence and spending power.

The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.