LONDON — A global footprint has become a lifesaver for brick-and-mortar retailers, especially for those in the tourist-reliant outlet business.
While Value Retail Group’s Bicester Village near London and its other eight outlets in Europe have been suffering, its villages in Shanghai and Suzhou, which were once considered alternative options for those who couldn’t afford to travel internationally, saw strong growth during the recent Chinese New Year holiday, despite the reduction in domestic travel due to rising local COVID-19 cases in February.
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Overall, compared to 2019 pre pandemic level, CNY sales growth reached 184 and 116 percent, respectively, for Shanghai Village and Suzhou Village, while footfall increased 70 and 42 percent, respectively, setting new all-time records, the company said Wednesday.
Some 27 boutiques at Shanghai Village and 30 boutiques at Suzhou Village each achieved their all-time highest single day of sales since opening.
Spend per visit grew by 67 percent for Shanghai Village and 52 percent for Suzhou Village.
Mark Israel, chief executive officer of Value Retail China, said the outlet operator bounced back from the setbacks of 2020 by focusing on “the best and most in-demand luxury and fashion brands, innovative growth initiatives and a creative array of specially curated collections,” as well as providing a safe, family-friendly environment.
Shanghai Village is adjacent to Shanghai Disney Resort and 40 minutes by car from the city center. Suzhou Village is located on the western shore of the city’s Yangcheng Lake Peninsula, which is famous for its seasonal hairy crabs.
Separate from the Bicester Village Shopping Collection, luxury outlet Florentia Village, which opened its seventh China outpost ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday in Chongqing, told WWD earlier that it anticipated three to five times more visitors during the Chinese New Year period this year.
Shanghai’s local retail conglomerate Bailian Group also revealed on Monday that its outlet business saw one of the biggest gains among its portfolios. Thanks to rounds of livestreaming, its online outlet portal logged a 76 percent growth from last year during the CNY holiday.
Also via livestreaming, Italy’s Mall Luxury Outlets collaborated with Secoo to bring their wide range of selections to China during the CNY period.
You’a Outlets in China’s second-tier city Changsha told the local press that it achieved double-digit growth during the period and cited its park-like shopping environment as a big draw for those who canceled long-distance family visits to spend the holiday nearby instead.