EDITORIAL: Overseas retail expenditure

Chinese tourists remain the top spenders, but retail has to add activities and emotions to the physical shopping experience

by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt FRGS FRAS

The success of the “Singles’ Day” on Nov. 11th, 2018, when Alibaba, the biggest online shopping company, collected orders for more than 30 billion USD within 24 hours and their closest rival, JD, reported another 23 billion USD in sales showed the unwavering appetite of Chinese consumers for online shopping.

Chinese shopping malls are suffering or have otherwise already been re-invented as Lifestyle centres. Retailers outside of China can be more optimistic as for most Chinese outbound travellers shopping in non-virtual outlet cities, department stores and malls are still an important part of their trip and the search for authentic regional products becoming more important than bargain hunting.

Your humble editor last week had the honour to speak at the Fifth German Factory-Outlet-Congress in Leipzig in Saxony, Germany. The Top 100 decision makers of the industry came together under the headline of “Outlets as Destinations”.

This idea can only be supported, when it comes to Chinese customers. Adding Artists in Residence, producing painting or sculptors and also offering short-term workshops for adults and children, other educational activities for children, small exhibitions, if possible with a connection to topics Chinese, wine and craft beer tasting, cooking classes, all such activities will keep the customers coming. And – not to be forgotten – not all Chinese live in China, the students and expats of the surrounding area will also be interested in combining a visit with some special activity with some shopping. New developments, for instance the new phase of the Outlet City Metzingen, which will open next year, is moving in this direction, including even a hotel so that hard-core shoppers can stay several days and all visitors can enjoy evening events like fashion shows or concerts or midnight shopping extravaganzas with their bed afterwards in walking distance.

The results of a study published by CBNData and Fliggy (until 2016 Alitrip), the tourism arm of Alibaba, called “2018 Chinese Travel Consumption Trends Report” lends further support to this trend identification. According to the report, 86% of all Chinese outbound travellers are interested in shopping during their trip. However, 93% of all persons above the age of 50 still name shopping as a major activity as outbound traveller, whereas only 85% of the travellers born after 1990 and only 81% of those born after 1995 seek out shopping opportunities while abroad. The younger groups are much more interested than older travellers in following their special interests during the trip, which can be activities based on an interest in art, nature, food, culture, sports, or adventure.

With Christmas on the horizon, we wish all readers happy gift shopping, you will almost certainly meet some Chinese while doing it, wherever you are.



To see Prof. Arlt’s presentation delivered at the Fifth German Factory-Outlet-Congress in Leipzig, please see the following link [German].

COTRI Intelligence

COTRI Intelligence is the indispensable source of weekly consulting, analysis, data and news for everybody seriously interested in the post-pandemic Chinese outbound tourism market and changing Chinese consumer preferences.  COTRI Intelligence is published by COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute and edited by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt FRGS FRAS. Regional partners and Content partners [...]

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