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Huaihai Road set to see intense retail battle
By Cherry Cao

RETAILERS along Huaihai Road, a premium shopping street in Shanghai, are set to compete more aggressively in the next few months as both new entrants and existing players battle each other to attract increasingly smart and discerning consumers.

From the western section to the eastern end, Huaihai Road M., one of the city’s most visited streets and often dubbed the “Oriental Avenue des Champs-Elysees,” will see several major retail projects refurbished soon as part of an ongoing government plan to inject new vibrancy to the century-old road while further enhancing its image as a shopping paradise.

“Future prospects for Huaihai Road remain quite upbeat with a couple of high-quality projects coming out in the next few months,” said Sabrina Chen, director of the retail department at RET Property Consultants. “We expect a stable increase in rents over the next 12 to 24 months for ground-level retail spaces though the vacancy rate may also climb a bit amid new supply to be rolled out during the same period.”

In about two to three months, IAPM, a shopping mall which is part of the Shanghai ICC, a mixed-use development by Sun Hung Kai Properties that also includes Grade A offices and deluxe residences, will be officially unveiled. 

Positioning itself as a trendy luxury mall, it will bring the late-night shopping concept to Shanghai for the first time. It will house more than 200 brands from both home and abroad, including top international retailer flagships, an IMAX cinema, a food zone, a premium supermarket and entertainment options.

Meanwhile at the other end of Huaihai Road, Lane Crawford, Hong Kong’s leading specialty store, which offers the largest assortment of designer brands in Asia, is planning to make a return to Shanghai probably in October, about seven years after it withdrew from the same site.

The new Lane Crawford, occupying four levels, or more than 14,000 square meters, in Shanghai Times Square, will be the retailer’s largest store and also its first flagship outlet on the Chinese mainland.

In the middle section of Huaihai Road, Shanghai Tang Cathay Mansion will have its grand opening later this month. The brand’s largest flagship store will offer a multi-sensory shopping experience.

By 2015, around 230,000 square meters of new retail spaces are set to be released on Huaihai Road, according to RET data. As of June, the vacancy rate at shopping malls on Huaihai Road M. was around 6 percent while the monthly rent for ground floor spaces averaged between 1,200 yuan (US$196) and 1,800 yuan per square meter.

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