Beverly Hills Department Stores Welcome Chinese Tours With Open Arms

    A new Hollywood Reporter article states that luxe locations like Saks and Barneys are altering everything from payment plans to store hours to accommodate Chinese tour groups.
    Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. (rocor/Flickr)
    Jing DailyAuthor
      Published   in Fashion

    Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. (rocor/Flickr)

    Hollywood Reporter article today reports that Chinese shopping tour groups in Los Angeles are still going strong, and Beverly Hills department stores are going all out to make sure the buses roll up to their front doors. In addition to places like Saks Fifth Avenue offering Mandarin-speaking associates and taking China UnionPay cards, stores are also opening their doors earlier or later to accommodate the groups:

    A source recently told THR that while shopping at Neiman Marcus Beverly Hills, an employee said the store would be open three hours later than usual to accommodate luxury motor-coach-loads of moneyed Chinese tourists -- though Neiman's corporate office denies the practice. But sources at Saks and Barneys in Beverly Hills confess they are happy to open early or late to accommodate what they call "aggregated" buses, organized by companies based in the San Gabriel Valley that work with tour operators in China.

    In addition, the article claims that the impending tour bus arrival is being used to sell products to other guests, although it is questionable as to whether or not this is effective:

    A Barneys employee recently told a customer considering a Celine bag: "If you don't buy it, a swarm of Chinese ladies will buy them all in 10 minutes."

    Michael MacRitchie, the founder of Shanghai's MGI Entertainment, a company which plans "ultimate experiences" for wealthy Chinese travelers such as trips to fashion week, describes the cachet of buying abroad:

    "Chinese consumers prefer cutting-edge trends coming out of New York and Hollywood," he says. "The pricing is better here because the Chinese government has a 'luxury tax' on imported items. The final factor is bragging rights: 'I bought this in New York or L.A.' "

    Meanwhile, Pierre Denis, CEO of Jimmy Choo Ltd., states that Beverly Hills is particularly popular due to its association with the film industry:

    "Beverly Hills' association with celebrity and film appeals to the Chinese sensibility. The Chinese like to shop when they travel, so the Jimmy Choo store in Beverly Hills is proving to be one of the most popular destinations."

    MacRitchie also shares the opinion that we're going to start seeing more and more Chinese customers buying niche brands instead of major labels when they go on their Stateside shopping sprees. "When a consumer has a handbag from Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Prada, they'll soon want what nobody else has," he said. "They'll reach for the niche designer bags."

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