How stores worldwide look after lucrative Chinese shoppers

Obsessed with luxury brands, and with plenty of disposable income to spend, Chinese tourists are a lucrative market. In the UK Chinese shoppers outspend guests from countries such as the United States and Russia by a factor of almost three to one. They splash out an average of £1600, with brand conscious Chinese women known to spend up to £5000 in a single trip (source: The Telegraph). Luxury goods are cheaper abroad than they are in China, where they are heavily taxed, so while the spend of the Chinese tourists might seem high by our standards, from their point of view they are making great savings.

It’s clear therefore that this lucrative market needs to be catered to and looked after. Here’s what some of the biggest stores around the world do to make themselves as Chinese friendly as possible.


In the first quarter of 2011 Chinese shoppers each spent an average of £3500 in Harrods. This 40% year-on-year growth was fuelled by the installation of 75 China UnionPay card terminals. These terminals allow Chinese consumers to pay for goods directly from their domestic bank accounts, using the most popular card in China. Previously Chinese consumers, whose bank cards are not compatible with Western chip-and-pin machines, had to pay in cash for their purchases. Introducing UnionPay has seen Harrods make some very impressive transactions, including two instances of wine sales reaching over £25,000, and £125,000 spent on card in a single diamond sale (source: Financial Times).

David Jones

In 2013 Australian luxury goods retailer David Jones also started accepting the UnionPay cards in its stores. This was in an attempt to attract more business from the 700,000 UnionPay card holders visiting yearly, who were expected to spend $770 million. David Jones sees a significant portion of its revenue coming from Chinese shoppers, and in the face of struggling domestic sales, decided to give more focus to its lucrative Asian visitors. In 2013 an estimated 10% of David Jones staff spoke Mandarin, with the company planning to hire many more native Chinese speakers (source: The Sydney Morning Herald). Doing so makes Chinese shoppers feel more at ease, and enables staff to easily communicate with them in order to create a relationship and drive sales.

Bergdorf Goodman

Founded in 1899, Bergdorf Goodman is a luxury retailer based on New York’s prestigious Fifth Avenue. With the average Chinese shoppers spending $7200 per visit in America, Bergdorf Goodman has taken several measures to make the shopping experience as easy as possible. As of 2014 the department store had eight Mandarin speaking staff, created social media presences on Chinese platforms including Weibo and Wechat, created red-themed displays for Chinese holidays, and accepted the UnionPay bankcard. Bergdorf Goodman even gifts Chinese UnionPay customers with gift cards valued between $300 and $500 when they spend between $3000 and $10,000 on their cards (source: China Daily USA).

(Image source: Image created by David Castillo Dominici |