Thinking About China As A Market? Don’t Be that Empty Shopping Mall

Shanghai China - opportunitiesChina may still have a Communist political system, but its economy is transitioning to capitalism. It has a growing middle class hungry to buy Western goods.

But it’s a study in contrasts. For instance, China is home to the world’s largest shopping mall. Too bad that shopping mall is nearly empty with only about a dozen stores occupied out of 1,500.

That shopping mall is a pronounced example of what could happen if, lured by large numbers, you fail to research your market thoroughly. Because for as advanced as certain cities may be, other parts of China are still rural and poor.

Over at the OPEN Forum site this week I write about the opportunities presented by China. Enterprising U.S. companies are investigating and some are capitalizing on the opportunities China presents. Just don’t forget to do your homework before you expand. For some excellent resources to research China as a market — read: China: A Ripe Market or Fast Track to Bankruptcy?


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

6 Reactions
  1. A large shopping mall that was in the works for many years prior to actually being built is experiencing something similiar in my hometown. It opened about 2 years ago and since then. . .probably 20% of the shops have closed their business doors for good over there and now there are many empty storefronts. If it weren’t for their large anchor department stores – they’d be done already.

    I’m not real sure why, as humans, we have such a desire to grow and spread (sometimes like an infection on the earth) at a constant and steady rate of speed. Don’t get me wrong, growth is good and it is healthy and productive. But we just keep spreading and building and consuming. . .again, like an infection. When the realization is that it is completely possible for us to find a balance – between the environment we live in and our lifestyles.

    If it were up to me, we’d be using up the empty shopping mall plazas, empty mom and pop shops, etc. for growth opportunities. We keep building and buildiing while many places sit empty and begin to make the communities they are in look depressed. This is one area where I’m not a big fan of such expansion . . . and it looks a bit careless on our part to me.

  2. I agree with you Chris, I don’t know why we have to keep building when so many storefronts are empty. Same goes for new homes. There are so many houses for sale in my area but they just keep buiding them and then they sit empty.

  3. China has a long way to go before it becomes a major consumer market. Right now the action is concentrated in a handful of big cities. The rest of country is dirt poor peasants. Stay in the cities and you might be OK, but venture outside and its a waste land.

  4. We have to give China time to do things right. A lot of what’s going on in terms of building is in preparation for the Olympics and anticipated growth thereafter. Just because shopping malls are not fully occupied does not mean it is not a good market for us. If you plant seeds now and as the country develops and expands, your business will too.

  5. Martin Lindeskog

    Let the market decide. I think both big malls and mom & pop shops could work hand in hand. I will follow the development in China and look into business opportunities in the free trade zones. At the same time, I will get news from different sources, e.g. Epoch Times.,92,,1.html

    I visited Asia in 1992 (Hong Kong, Macao, Taipei, Bangkok).

  6. One quick stat about Shangai (I use to focus on China as a Swiss based Private Banker);
    1) The number of new millionaires per day (2 to 4 per day)
    2) The number of people with liquid assets of over 1M$ (over 450,000)

    Conclusion ; focus on high quality fine products.
    Do not open a store there, just take your time to find the right local partner.