Business booms as top brands transform Nanjing Road W.

Li Qian
The annual Forbes forum has returned to Jing'an, bringing in new business opportunities.
Li Qian
Business booms as top brands transform Nanjing Road W.
Ti Gong

The 2020 Forbes China Jing’an West Nanjing Road Forum this month brought new business opportunities to the heart of the city. 

The annual Forbes forum has returned to Jing’an, bringing in new business opportunities. In 2020, the Forbes China Jing’an West Nanjing Road Forum signed agreements with several brands to open their first stores on the iconic Nanjing Road W. as to fuel a “debut economy.”

French fragrance brand Boitown has opened its first flagship store in China in the HKRI Taikoo Hui mall. SNOW 51X BURTON, which combines retail and indoor skiing, opened its first Shanghai store at the Jing An Kerry Center in November.

Italian streetwear brand GCDS has opened its first Shanghai store at the Réel Mall.

As shoppers shift to online stores, Jing’an has also leapt at the chance to develop online retail.

During the forum, CGC Girls Collection signed a strategic partnership with the School of Continuing Education of the Shanghai Theater Academy, famous multi-channel network agency Soundnova and e-commerce platform Good Selection.

They will build an incubator in Jing’an to foster livestreamers and Internet celebrities.

The Jing’an government has also forged a deal with the world’s leading property advisers Savills, CBRE, JLL, Cushman & Wakefield and Colliers International to introduce more world-renowned brands and multinational companies to the district.

As one of the most thriving commercial districts in Shanghai, Jing’an has shown how to inject vitality into the market in the post-pandemic era.

The district’s total retail sales of consumer goods between January and October grew by 18.51 percent year on year to nearly 100.7 billion yuan (US$15.3 billion).

This was the fastest growth across Shanghai. Since May, Nanjing Road W. has maintained a double-digit growth in sales.

According to the Jing’an Commerce Commission, in the first three quarters, 111 stores debuted in Jing’an, including global and Asian firsts. I

t’s rare to see so many debuts in such a short time, according to Lin Xiaojue, the commission’s director.

“Customers can have a great shopping experience in Jing’an and be the first to buy new merchandise,” she added.

District Director Wang Hua said the government is now working to expand business space and improve roads, hoping to make it the most international yet most local CBD in Shanghai.

“We estimate we will have additional 800,000 square meters of high-end offices in three years,” he said.

He cited Zhangyuan Garden. It is a 46,000-square-meter residential compound with about 170 historical buildings in a variety of styles, from shikumen (stone-gate) structures to garden villas. All residents have moved out while buildings are preserved, retaining authentic Shanghai flavor.

“These old buildings will be repaired and renovated to accommodate world-class brands, art galleries and financial institutes,” Wang said. “Our goal is to build Nanjing Road W. as a window for visitors to feel about Shanghai’s lifestyle and economic vigor.” Li Siwei, chief executive officer of Forbes China, said the road signifies the city’s prosperous economy. It plays an important part for Shanghai to build an international community.

Also, experts gathered in the forum to talk about the future development of commercial zones.

“Strolling through shopping malls in Jing’an, I often see a round-sized lighting device. Most of you may have seen it during livestreaming. Yes, livestreaming has been a part of China’s shopping malls,” Li said.

It connects brick-and-mortar stores with the advancing Internet technologies, and it helps retailers reach customers, encouraging them to leave their home and walk to shopping malls. “The online economy has reshaped shopping malls,” he said.

A report from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology shows that China’s digital economy ranked second only to the US in 2018. But in terms of development, China has topped the world, according to Zhao Guangbin, senior economist at PwC.

“China invented livestream sell, and it is all the rage across the nation,” he said. “The digital economy has become the new engine of Chinese economic growth for contributing over 30 percent of China’s GDP. It will exceed 50 percent in the future.”

According to him, commercial zones should put digital economy at top priority when making its development plan.

Zhang Jichuan, a manager from leading video-sharing platform Douyin, said livestream sell smashes the constraints of time and distance, an important reason behind its popularity especially after the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I don’t want to go out today and it’s very late at night, but I can still buy what I want from hundreds of kilometers away thanks to livestream sell,” he said.

According to him, “Internet celebrity economy” has also fueled livestream sell. “Internet celebrities have so many followers and great influence. So we need to rely on them to sell products,” he said.

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