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People's Daily Online>>Opinion

Luxury shoppers ring alarm bells

By Chen Weihua (China Daily)

14:38, February 03, 2012

Living in New York, I have the great pleasure of having Chinese friends come from afar to visit. Yet instead of seeing the real jewels of New York, such as St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Broadway musicals, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge and jazz in the West Village, they are desperate to visit the Fifth Avenue and Woodbury Common outlets, about an hour's drive from Manhattan, where some 200 discount luxury goods stores are located. And it is not just the women it's also the men.

In fact, not all of these friends are wealthy. Yet many seem to have no hesitation when it comes to buying a luxury item that might cost one or two months' wages.

The whole thing reminds me of my year in Honolulu, Hawaii in the early 1990s. Pearl Harbor was the top destination for American visitors. But for Japanese tourists, it was the Ala Moana Shopping Center, where you saw young Japanese women shopping till they dropped.

Now Chinese shoppers have started to create a similar scene in not just New York, but also in other major US cities as well as the European cities of Paris, London and Milan. Such shopping sprees reach their peak during the Lunar New Year holiday. In fact, "Chinsumer" has already been coined to describe such lavish Chinese shoppers.

In the United States, Chinese and Brazilian tourists have become the top spenders. On average, a Chinese tourist spends $6,200, compared with the $4,000 average for foreign tourists to the US.

No wonder that US President Barack Obama signed an executive order on January 19, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security to expedite the visa processing for Chinese and Brazilians and increase the visa quota for Chinese and Brazilians by 40 percent. It was clearly meant to be an effective measure to create American jobs at a time when unemployment remains high.

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Leave your comment7 comments

  1. Name

Tracker at 2012-02-06122.107.87.*
I drive an Audi (German) not because I want to show off, because I love driving and my Audi is truly a pleasure to drive. I wear a Rolex not because I want to show off, because it is a truly accurate timepiece, I keep my money/credit cards etc. in a Gucci wallet, difficult to show off a wallet in your pocket but because the leather truly is of superior quality and I break every other wallet or my cards having it in my back pocket. Not all people buy luxury goods to show off, you would be surprised how many women I see walking around with fake LV bags, Men wearing fake Rolex"s (and yes I can tell the difference), these people like to show off. Like it or not with luxury goods you generally get better quality so if you can afford it then why not ?
Universal Law at 2012-02-06220.255.1.*
I think it is ok to buy a good quality products. But there are many non branded products that are also of good quality. It would be outright stupid to just buy a branded goods just to show off taking into consideration there are many poor in China. What do you gain by buying very expensive branded goods just to show off ? Maybe you feel good because lots of people are looking at your branded goods. But this feeling will not last because after one year, you have to buy another branded goods because the one you bought earlier was “old model”. How long are you going to keep on buying ? If you want to feel really good, I suggest you try giving some money to the poor and to your neigbours who are trying to make ends meet . Within a few months, you will have a feeling that is beyond understanding. This is the universal law of Cause and Effect. For the past many years, I make an effort to go to the poor area to give away part of my income. By the way, you do not have to be rich to help the poor.
Obserer at 2012-02-06203.177.74.*
Conspicous consumption goes hand in hand with the old W.C. Fields remark that "A sucker is born every minute" and by unknown, "A fool and his money are soon parted".
PD User at 2012-02-05114.231.146.*
For this to change the Governments in the provinces have to also promote options such as parks, galleries, libraries, theatres, sporting interests etc., as well as shopping mall after shopping mall. The development of China needs to be multifaceted. Also, education about the world in general would mean travel taking place for broadening the mind and for self development rather than boosting the self image. London, Paris, Rome and New York have a lot more to offer than shopping.
wende at 2012-02-0571.255.83.*
Chinese behold to the thoughts that owning luxurious items improve their social standings. It"s just ego boosting and the foreign owners are laughing all the way to their banks. Chinese should pay attention to help their poorer countrymen.

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