Why China's luxe shoppers are shunning the West

STORY: Lockdowns have lifted, and China’s shoppers are out in force again.

That’s good news for the luxury brands that depend on Chinese spending.

But it might not be quite such good news for the Western retailers who once welcomed droves of high-spending tourists from the country.

Because experts say more Chinese are choosing to do their shopping for luxe goodies at home.

The resort island of Hainan is luring consumers with duty-free retail.

Shoppers at one mall in Sanya city were enjoying the convenience:

“When we went shopping at Harrods in the United Kingdom, the prices there were a lot cheaper than those in mainland China and you could claim a tax refund too. But the whole tax refund process is rather complicated, unlike duty-free shopping in Sanya. Whatever we buy here is already tax-free. It’s more convenient.”

China is forecast to be the world’s biggest market for luxury goods by 2025.

That means makers should now benefit as stores reopen.

The question is whether shopping habits have been changed by years of lockdown.

Jonathan Yan is a principal at the Roland Berger Consultancy:

“A lot of consumers already have the habit to purchase locally for the luxury goods. And also, given the policy of repatriation, a lot of consumption will also happen in Hainan.”

China lifted most restrictions for domestic and inbound travellers in early January.

Travel site trip.com says overseas flight bookings jumped 200% after the move.

But it seems many Chinese will be opting to spend their time, and their money, at home.