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Retailers prepare for Golden Week

News, 30 September 2016

BEIJING: Nearly half of China is expected to travel during Golden Week, the week-long national holiday that starts tomorrow, including more than 5m people who will make an overseas trip, with retailers in popular destinations anticipating a boom in sales.

Domestically, the Yangtze River Delta Area and Shanghai are expected to receive record numbers, according to China.org, the latter getting an additional boost from the newly opened Disneyland resort.

China Railway Corp expects that a total of 110m railway trips will be taken during the seven-day period, peaking on October 1, when it will handle more than 14.2m passengers.

Overseas, traditional favourites such as Taiwan and Hong Kong appear to be losing ground as rising mainland incomes and the more relaxed visa policies of many countries draw Chinese tourists further afield.

Ctrip, China's biggest online travel agency, has reported a surge in people travelling to Morocco, Tunisia and Tonga, for example.

But the biggest beneficiaries of the coming week are likely to be in places like Korea, Japan, Thailand and the UK.

Korea is expecting a quarter of a million Chinese visitors who will spend in the region of $500m. Local department stores have prepared accordingly, devoting greater store space to those brands favoured by the tourists, while extra police will be on hand to prevent traffic jams caused by fleets of tour buses, the Chosunilbo said.

Thailand is readying for an influx of 600,000 tourists from China, while Japan remains popular, although the exchange rate does not currently favour Chinese shoppers.

The UK, on the other hand, is anticipating a boom from Chinese tourists because of the depreciation of the pound following the referendum vote on leaving the European Union; a trip to the UK is now around 20% cheaper than at this time last year, according to Ctrip.

Even in August, spending by Chinese visitors in London's West End was up 65% on last year, and the New West End Company is predicting 2016 Golden Week sales will significantly outperform 2015, as more retailers offer digital payment services like Alipay and tourists bulk-buy upmarket products.

Data sourced from China.org, China Daily, Xinhua, Chosunilbo, Bangkok Post; additional content by Warc staff