Galeries Lafayette in Paris is turning to bespoke experiences and exclusivity to bring back its traveling shoppers, especially those from China after the City of Lights witnessed a rough year for Chinese tourism. Following a string of terrorist attacks in 2015 that caused fear among France’s major travel market, Paris experienced a more than 12 percent drop in Chinese travelers in 2016 compared to the year before, and it’s only recently begun to bounce back.
Since December, tourism numbers have been looking more positive for Paris and other major European tourist destinations. But shopping malls aren’t completely out of choppy waters. Galeries Lafayette is one major mall that has launched a series of initiatives to boost sales and visitor numbers in the wake of hard times.
Its most recent new offering is a “Parisian Shopping Experience,” which can be accessed at its Le Concierge private lounge at its Boulevard Haussmann location. There, shoppers can enjoy a personal shopping experience away from the crowds with a made-to-measure service, an opportunity to deliver purchases directly to their hotel, as well as complimentary drinks and snacks from Starbucks or Galeries Lafeyette’s own Vue sur Coupole cafe.
The service is only available for eight people at a time, so it gives shoppers the exclusivity of being away from other tour groups. Those who make a reservation for this personalized shopping experience will also receive tax refund assistance and a branded tote bag.
One can argue that this is a step in an even more personalized direction after Galeries Lafayette made a move in March to cater to Asian tourists by opening an entirely new brick-and-mortar space across from its Paris flagship, which is often buzzing with large tour groups. The new “Shopping and Welcome Center” touts multilingual services, its own app, private rooms for tour groups, and a selection of some of the department store’s more popular personal luxury goods and gourmet foods.
This model was likely intended to create increased efficiency for shoppers who do their research online and come prepared with a shopping list, Brian Buchwald, CEO of consumer intelligence company Bomoda, told Luxury Daily. “However, this model does seem more attendant to past needs rather than future needs,” he said. “Many of these same tourists do not come to Paris looking for the purely efficient experience. They want to mix the buying of goods with the overall sightseeing experience. They want to feel cosmopolitan–shopping and rubbing elbows with the French and other nationalities in the great Maisons.”
If analysts are correct, the department store’s latest package letting shoppers consult with sartorial experts in one of the most iconic shopping spots in Paris is in place amid a slightly brighter time in Europe’s luxury industry. A recent Bain report predicted tourism growth could boost Europe’s luxury sales by as much as 9 percent.