chinese shoppers 4

Chinese Shoppers, two



retail bargain vanguard
rush sharp (2) consumer
elbow designer deep pocket
trade expect estimate
expat clientele long-haul
influx full swing revolution
crowd spectrum sophisticated
trend drive (2) animal (3)
brand statistics worldwide
jostle swing (2) incredible
cash handbag staggering
flow wave (3) average
grow enjoy admit (2)
earn sign (3) recession
weary fall away





At Selfridges, the doors open to the traditional Christmas and New Years sale. They’re expecting over a hundred-fifty thousand shoppers at the end of what has been a bad year for Britain’s retailers.

The vanguard of this year’s rush: thousands of Chinese consumers. Sharp elbows, deep pockets, and an eye for designer bargain.

The first three hours of trading today, this store estimates sixty percent of the clientele will be from China: students studying in the capital, Chinese expats working in London, and long-haul retail tourists here just to shop.

On the street outside, this is the line for Gucci handbags.

Shopper One: “Maximum five.”
Journalist: “Maximum five Gucci handbags? How much do you think that’s going to cost you?”
Shopper One: “I think, maybe nine hundred.”

Journalist: “How much are you going to spend?”
Shopper Two: “About two thousand pounds.”
Journalist: “Two thousand pounds?”
Shopper Two: “Yes.”
Journalist: “How old are you?”
Shopper Two: “Just twenty three years old.”
Journalist: “23? That’s a lot of money to spend.”
Inside, the Chinese retail revolution is in full swing. This new wave of Far Eastern shopper is a sophisticated animal — expert at the luxury end of the British retail spectrum.

Designer brands are what they want.

Sue West, Spokeswoman, Selfridges: “They are true experts on the designer brands. They really do know. You see, as soon as they see a trend moving from one brand to the other, you can see the Chinese very much driving that.”

The statistics are incredible: this year alone, the Chinese shopper worldwide has spent over two trillion dollars on tax-free shopping. They’re spending here in Selfridges has gone up sixty percent this year.

On average, a Chinese in Selfridges today will spend a staggering seventeen hundred dollars.

While the cash flow from the British shopper has been declining, this influx of big spenders from China is welcome news.

Jace Tyrrell, The West End Company: “They actually spend about forty percent of their money when they come to London on shopping, so a huge market for us. And that’s set to really grow for us over the next five years.”

Away from the jostling crowds, in Selfridges’ personal shopping department, the only customer today is film star, Li Bing Bing.

Li Bing Bing, Film Star: “I think the economy in China and the development is really fast. People earn a lot of money, so they need to spend their money to enjoy their life.”

She admitted that today, she spent so far six thousand dollars.

For London shops, it’s a welcome sign of the times in this new global retail village. As spending by Britain’s recession weary shoppers falls away, it could be the Chinese shopper that saves this country’s shops this year.

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1. Sales has been high for the entire year for Selfridges. True or false?

2. Is the main target group (customers) at the end of the year rich, upper-class Britons?

3. There is a huge demand for expensive, luxury items such as handbags. Is this right or wrong?

4. Are the Chinese visitors frugal and tight with their money, or do they spend lavishly?

5. Why are more Chinese buying more expensive goods?

6. What is the trend of Chinese shoppers versus British shoppers? Describe the trend.

7. How do the British shops feel about the influx of Chinese shoppers?


A. Are there many high-end, luxury shops in your city? What are their names? What do they sell?

B. Who shops in luxury stores? What kind of people are they?

C. Have you seen (more) Chinese tourists and shoppers?

D. Would businesses like to have (more) Chinese and other foreign shoppers? What could they do to attract them?

E. What will happen in the future?


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