China to outspend Japan on luxuries soon

Updated: 2012-03-07 17:21

By Yang Yang (China Daily)

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The Greater China area, which consists of the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao, may soon overtake Japan in terms of money spent on personal luxury goods, the Guangzhou Daily newspaper reported Tuesday.

Bruno Lannes, a partner of Bain & Company, said at the Prestige Brands Forum in Shanghai that he wouldn't be surprised if the third-ranked Greater China area replaces Japan as the world's second largest market for personal luxury goods this year or next.

In 2010, Chinese consumers spent 159 billion yuan (about $22.7 billion according to the exchange rate that time) on luxury goods while Japan spent $23.2 billion. The growth rate of China's luxury consumption was between 25-30 percent in 2011, although the figure in the fourth quarter lowered gradually, the newspaper reported.

Still, there is a long way to go for China to catch up with the United States, who tops the 2010 list with $61.2 billion.

Luxury brands started expansion in China in 2010, with about 160 luxury newly opened stores, including Boss, Gucci, Burberry and Prada, Lannes said.

However, growth slowed in 2011, as the first three quarters saw only 90 luxury stores opened in China.

Some brands lessened their investments in China between 2008 and 2009 because of the global financial crisis, resulted in slowed expansion. Besides, a shortage of talents and the rising cost of the labor forces were also major obstacles for luxury brands in China, especially in the second- and third-tier cities, Lannes said.