"First-store economy" spurs consumption in southwest China

(Xinhua) 10:09, January 22, 2024

Customers shop at Chemist Warehouse in Yuzhong District of southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, Jan. 21, 2024. (Xinhua/Chu Jiayin)

CHONGQING, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- After a long day of work, Huo Can, a resident of southwest China's Chongqing, finds solace in strolling among the wooden shelves filled with various artifacts, picking up a book from the shelves and sitting by the floor-to-ceiling windows with a view of the Jialing River.

The bookstore Huo visits is the first branch of the Japanese bookstore brand Tsutaya Bookstore in the municipality. This bookstore has been well-received since its opening in September 2023, and locals call it "the most beautiful bookstore."

It is one of the hundreds of inaugural stores from both international and domestic brands that launched in Chongqing in 2023.

The opening of a leading or new brand's first store in a region can often spur commercial vitality in the business area, and even drive consumption throughout the city. In many cities across southwest China, developing a "first-store economy" by leveraging its attractiveness has been an important approach to boosting consumption in recent years.

"Chongqing has introduced a total of more than 1,800 internationally and domestically well-known brands so far. In the first three quarters of 2023, 341 new first stores have been launched, marking a year-on-year growth of 216 percent. The first-store economy has shown a steady and positive development trend," said Peng Heliang, deputy director of the municipal commission of commerce.

In the third quarter of last year, 192 brands opened their first stores in Chongqing, up 128 percent from the second quarter, including 73 food and beverage stores, 56 clothing retailers, and others engaging in the cultural, sports and entertainment sectors.

These 192 first stores, including the first stores nationwide and the first stores in southwest China or Chongqing, come from both domestic and international brands. The roster includes 34 international brands from the United States, France, Italy, Canada and Britain, among others, according to the municipal commission of commerce.

While meeting the diverse needs of local consumers, first stores have stimulated Chongqing's business circles. In the city's Yuzhong District, the first stores drove the sales of key commercial complexes and shopping centers to increase by nearly 30 percent year on year during the New Year holiday in 2024.

Similarly, Chengdu, another large city in southwest China, introduced 708 first stores in 2022 across various sectors such as luxury goods, trendy brands and high-end food and beverage. Chunxi Road business circle in Chengdu achieved a turnover of 89 billion yuan (about 12.51 billion U.S. dollars) in the January-October period of 2023, up by 12 percent year on year.

Many well-known domestic and international commercial brands choose to settle in west China cities for the favorable business environment, comprehensive policy support and huge consumption potential.

"After placing orders, consumers can expect quick completion of processes such as order declaration, customs clearance and release, logistics and express delivery," said the person in charge of Chongqing's first offline store of Australian pharmacy, Chemist Warehouse. "The quickest customs release time after placing an order online is only 3 minutes."

The excellent supportive policies have facilitated the establishment of the Chemist Warehouse store in Chongqing, and the huge consumption potential in the region has further bolstered its confidence in future development.

Recently, Chongqing and Chengdu have rolled out more favorable policies, including financial support, to facilitate the launch of the first stores of international and domestic brands and optimize the business environment.

"With the continued growth of the first-store economy, Chongqing can become a significant foothold for international and domestic brands to tap into the southwestern and even western markets of China, stimulating the consumption vitality of Chongqing and even more cities in west China," Peng said.

This photo taken on Jan. 21, 2024 shows the Chemist Warehouse in Yuzhong District of southwest China's Chongqing Municipality. (Xinhua/Chu Jiayin)

People pass by Tsutaya Bookstore in Yuzhong District of southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, Jan. 21, 2024. (Xinhua/Chu Jiayin)

A customer reads a book at Tsutaya Bookstore in Yuzhong District of southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, Jan. 21, 2024. (Xinhua/Chu Jiayin)

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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