H&M closes Shanghai flagship store following lockdowns and consumer backlash
- Swedish fashion retailer had more than 500 stores in mainland China in early 2021, but currently lists only 376, including the flagship Shanghai store
- Closure comes after Shanghai’s two-month citywide lockdown and consumer boycott in 2021 over Xinjiang controversy
Although it was open earlier this month, its three-storey store in downtown Shanghai was on Friday boarded up, with its H&M signage gone. The Swedish group, known in full as H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB, declined to comment, citing a blackout period before its first-half earnings report on June 29.
The world’s second-biggest fast-fashion retailer entered China in 2007 with the opening of the flagship store and rapidly expanded. It had more than 500 stores in mainland China early last year, but its website currently only lists 376, including the flagship Shanghai store.
Although nearly a month has passed since Shanghai lifted a strict two-month lockdown, consumers have yet to return to malls in significant numbers.
But the backlash against H&M, the first foreign retailer to express concerns, has been particularly strong. Unlike other brands, its products remain unavailable on major Chinese e-commerce sites such as Tmall and JD.com.
UN experts and rights groups estimate that over a million people, mainly Uygurs and other Muslim minorities, have been detained in recent years in a vast system of camps in China’s western Xinjiang region. Many former inmates have said they were subject to ideological training and abuse in the camps. China denies all accusations of abuse.