Store wars, episode seven

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Last November WiC visited Hangzhou on Singles’ Day to see how bricks-and-mortar retailers were faring on the biggest day of the year for online shopping. The results were intriguing, hinting at a split between customers who buy on the internet and those who prefer to visit shops and stores (see WiC303).

In the latest sign of tension between the two sales models, a Shanghai shopping mall developer tried to boost demand from traditional shoppers late last month with an ad in the international version of the New York Times urging shoppers to “Say No to Online Shopping”.

Hong Kong-listed China Properties Group, which owns and operates shopping centres in Shanghai and Chongqing, said the rise of e-commerce meant that many malls would be “abandoned by humans” and that it was willing to “represent commercial streets and physical malls worldwide in fighting against online shopping”.

The advertisement added that online shopping sites lack a human touch and that they often sell counterfeits. China Properties then offered to provide rent-free space for international brands – and even for popular online retailers – which want to grow their business offline.

Mingtiandi, a real estate research agency, then reported that China Properties’ Concord City in Shanghai is one of the malls that is struggling. All the same, it’s hard to see how an advertisement in an international broadsheet is going to reach the kind of audience that needs convincing to shop less online.

As Mingtiandi also noted, the advertisement didn’t even make it onto the internet, appearing only in the US newspaper’s print edition.

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