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Here’s What’s Trending in Shanghai Retail

Two-Minute Tour : Omnichannel approaches are top of mind, and the city has big plans for integrating the metaverse.





Shanghai – Pearl of the Orient – is a megacity. Home to 28.5 million people as of 2022, it’s not only China’s largest city, it’s larger than life too. It features the world’s second tallest tower against a skyline of myriad architectural styles. The cosmopolitan excess of the 1920s and ’30s bestowed upon it art deco buildings galore, which now sumptuously contrast with Buddhist temples and traditional stone-gated housing. Luxury retail is huge, thanks to Chinese shoppers making up almost 50 percent of the global high-end goods market. Throw top brands in alongside Michelin-recommended restaurants and a contemporary art scene not to be sniffed at, and you have a city that’s firmly on the map as a cultural and financial powerhouse.


Out with the old, in with the new – that could be Shanghai’s motto. Glitz and glamor are layered upon lane houses and abandoned factories turned into art galleries. Dumpling eateries are replaced with tech stores, crumbling buildings rebuilt as shiny shopping malls. This dynamic turnover is intensely attractive to tourists and retailers alike.

Shanghai’s answer to New York’s Fifth Avenue is Nanjing Road. The beating heart of the metropolis, it’s one of the busiest shopping streets on the planet. It’s attracting big-name brands who are setting up shop across the district. Italian fashion house Missoni has recently opened a flagship concept at Jing’an Kerry Center, following in the footsteps of Gen Z favorite ENG and Burberry, which unveiled new stores in the city in 2021.

During the next five years, Shanghai plans to encourage the use of the metaverse in public services, offices and entertainment venues.

During the next five years, Shanghai plans to encourage the use of the metaverse in public services, offices and entertainment venues.


Shanghai’s futuristic skyline has to be seen to be believed. The best spot for a view is The Bund – a promenade lined with shops and restaurants that comes alive after sundown with locals practicing tai chi and flying kites. Around the corner is a total culture shift, into the peaceful, reverent Yuyuan garden, which is the only surviving Ming Dynasty garden in the city. Strolling further takes you into the French quarter, to Tianzifang, where souvenir and tea shops mingle and to Xintiandi, with its luxury boutiques and gourmet restaurants. Across the sprawling city, the mix of architectural styles and atmospheres is striking. East meets West in every decade.


What’s trending in the city that has its finger on the pulse of every new development? Omnichannel approaches to retail are top of the pile, seen in stores from Starbucks to Nike. Not simply shopping destinations, these spaces are designed to offer ultimate convenience and personalization, thanks to smart tech integrations for data capture and social amplification. This is in line with the city’s plan to encourage use of the metaverse in public services, office and entertainment venues, in the next five years. This presents an opportunity for experience-first, design-led brands that are prepared to adapt to local preferences and differentiate themselves in the market.


Brand awareness can be a challenge in a city that moves at an astronomically fast pace, but high appetites for quality goods, experiential retail and photographable spaces mean the opportunity is greater than the risk for brands looking to plant a flag.

📷: Zbinden



MasterClass: ‘Re-Sparkling’ Retail: Using Store Design to Build Trust, Faith and Brand Loyalty

HOW CAN WE EMPOWER and inspire senior leaders to see design as an investment for future retail growth? This session, led by retail design expert Ian Johnston from Quinine Design, explores how physical stores remain unmatched in the ability to build trust, faith, and loyalty with your customers, ultimately driving shareholder value.

Presented by:
Ian Johnston
Founder and Creative Director, Quinine Design

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