Retailers flock to grab piece of a growing wealth

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 May, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 May, 1994, 12:00am

FLOCKING to Wuhan to share the city's economic growth are prominent Hong Kong retailers such as Wing On Department Store and Goldlion. They have entered, or are entering, the city with full approval despite Wuhan not having been declared open for foreign commercial operators.

Brand-name products such as Giordano and Crocodile also are sold in the city.

''Wuhan citizens' consumption power has been rising in recent years,'' said deputy mayor Sun Zhigang.

''Now there are many rich people, especially those engaging in private enterprises. Chinese bosses and employees of joint ventures and technology people also get higher pay.'' Last year, the city's average income was 2,688 yuan, or 224 yuan a month, up 36 per cent on the previous year.

Its total retail turnover grew 30 per cent to 16.73 billion yuan last year.

Wuhan's retail industry is the seventh biggest in China, according to an official at Wuhan Department Store, the first Wuhan enterprise to list A share on the mainland.

''Now even a lamp carrying a price tag of 200 to 300 yuan isn't too expensive for Wuhan households,'' said a staff member.

The growing number of enterprises also is fuelling higher demand for consumer goods, she said.

However, the city's consumerism has not yet reached the levels of some other Chinese cities, with several Hong Kong retailers with counters at the department store have reported far from impressive sales.

A Hong Kong businessman selling mid-price, brand-name garments said: ''They don't seem able to afford our products. Spending power is still low.'' The top retail area in the city is the Jiang Han Road, which previously was a foreign representative enclave.

Now lined with state-run and joint-venture retail shops, the street is visited by masses of spending citizens every day.