SHANGHAI'S shopping districts are being redefined with the resettlement of city dwellers to new towns and the influx of foreign retailers. Shopping in China's premier fashion and financial centre used to mean the traditional districts along Nanjing Road, Huaihai Road and Sichuan Road. Not anymore. Now, shopping districts are emerging in new towns such as Xujiahui and Huxi and in Pudong's Lujiazui as city dwellers are being resettled to the suburbs to make way for infrastructure development in the city centre. Also, the influx of foreign retailers, especially those from Hong Kong, is pushing the shopping districts beyond the traditional boundaries after Shanghai relaxed foreign participation in the retail sector in 1991. 'Judging from the retail growth in the past few years, we'll definitely see more shopping areas sprouting in other parts of Shanghai,' said Wu Zhenglin, general manager of Shanghai No 1 Department Store, the largest in terms of sales. He said several foreign-funded departments had set up in Xujiahui, a middle-class area for the nouveau riche , and that would certainly spawn a new shopping district. Shanghai Oriental Shopping Centre and Pacific Department Stores are among the major retailers there. As an indication of their size, Shanghai Oriental has a gross floor area of 269,000 sq feet and Pacific, 204,440 sq ft. But the largest complex to dot that district will be the 4.3 million sq ft Guanghui Plaza, which is for mixed uses and is still being built. In Huxi, another new town, the landmark would be a commercial complex being developed by Shanghai No 1 Department Store. In Lujiazui, which is being developed into a colossal industrial and commercial zone, Shanghai No 1 and Yaohan Department Store are developing a 1.6 million sq ft department store to cater to the middle-class neighbourhood. 'Given the rise of the new shopping areas and the number of retailers, competition in the sector is becoming extremely keen,' said Norman Sze, general manager of Arthur Andersen's Shanghai office. But despite the rise of the other new retail towns, Nanjing Road is the city's busiest shopping street, stretching for 10 km from the Bund to Jiangsu Road. Here, retailers - selling mainly low and medium-priced goods - tend to pay the highest rentals. Locals say that buyers visiting Nanjing Road tend to be people from other provinces and country people who have benefited substantially from the country's open-door reform policy. Huaihai Road, where top-end retailers tend to concentrate, is home to stores that focus on expensive, designer labels such as Escada and Yves St Laurent. Here, the customers tend to be expatriates and the top 10 per cent of Shanghai's retailers. Sichuan tends to cater more to the lower-middle class and tends to attract mostly domestic retailers. 'The strongest market segment is the middle-class bracket, which accounts for 50 to 60 per cent of the Shanghai market,' said Mr Sze, adding that the low income accounted for 30 to 40 per cent, and the top-income, five to 10 per cent.