It’s the moment China’s price-savvy shoppers have all been waiting for: the world’s largest duty-free mall is now officially open for business.
With all the requisite pomp and circumstance, China Duty Free (CDF) celebrated the grand opening of its massive 72,000-square-meter Haitang Bay shopping center today in the sunny island province of Hainan. A few of the 300 brands available in the tariff-free haven include Burberry, Chanel, and Dior, while some such as Louis Vuitton and Prada are waiting for the Spring Festival travel period before they open.
Xinhua states that the mall is replacing a smaller duty-free center in downtown Sanya that was opened thanks to Hainan’s pilot program started three years ago. It also offers the following details:
China International Travel Service Group (CITS) invested 5 billion yuan (about 814 million U.S. dollars) in the center, which is operated by China Duty Free Group under CITS.
The State Council, China’s cabinet, gave Hainan permission to run a duty-free program on a trial basis in April 2011 to promote the island as a world-class international tourist destination by 2020.
From 2011 to 2013, Hainan saw an annual 15-percent increase in its tourism revenue on average, with offshore duty-free sales accounting for 10 percent of the total revenue.
Figures from the local customs show that as of mid-August, the revenue in Hainan’s two DFS stores exceeded 9.2 billion yuan.
This new, highly anticipated shopping center is part of a bid to keep traveling Chinese shoppers on the mainland as a growing number head abroad to avoid high tariffs on luxury goods and China’s luxury market slows. While unlikely to have an effect on brands catering exclusively to China’s ultra-rich global jet-setters, this new facility is set to appeal to China’s growing and price-conscious group of middle-class consumers. Their rising spending power and interest in affordable luxury products have also led to the growth of luxury outlet malls and secondhand luxury shopping in China.
Look below for some more photos of the big event: