Development index for shopping centers bounces back

Ding Yining
The comprehensive index rebounded to 67.4 points from 65.2 points a year ago.
Ding Yining
Development index for shopping centers bounces back

The average development index for domestic shopping centers has rebounded after losses of foot traffic last year, and competition may tighten in the coming years, according to the latest study by Nielsen and China Chain Store & Franchise Association. 

The comprehensive index rebounded to 67.4 points from 65.2 points a year ago, albeit still below 2019's index level of 69.4. 

Shoppers are visiting shopping centers as frequently and staying as long as they did before the pandemic, but their willingness to spend money is yet to get fully recovered, as consumers tend to window shop and enjoy leisure time instead of shopping at physical stores.

Domestic commercial property website expects more than 1,000 new shopping centers to open in China this year, which will bring the total to nearly 6,000. 

This expansion puts pressure on operators to finetune their strategies and convert more foot traffic into sales, according to Pei Liang, chairman of the China Chain Store & Franchise Association. 

In terms of locations, shoppers are more satisfied with supermarkets and grocery stores, but less so with beauty, fashion retailing and consumer electronics stores inside shopping centers.

Qiu Yong, general manager of InTime Retail Group's operation department, said that leveraging festive occasions and inviting fashion brands' ambassadors to host offline events is important to drive foot traffic, especially among young consumers. 

Hosting a wide range of subcultural offline events to cater to leisure demand in addition to consumer's daily necessities has also been effective, Qiu told the China Shopping Center & Chain Brand Development Summit in Shanghai. 

Yu Linkang, general manager of commercial property developer China Resources Mixc Lifestyle Services, said it is looking to explore more experimental and trendy shopping spaces.

"Working with emerging domestic brands is also crucial to attracting more young visitors," Yu said. 

Community and regional-level shopping centers are welcomed by more shoppers, especially in lower-tier cities, as they favor convenience and vicinity to neighborhood compounds. 

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