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The situation of retail in Wu Han (China)

In recent years, the economy of Wu Han has developed quickly. As the amount of people who hunt for jobs in the city grows, the retail industry also expands, especially in the area of department stores and supermarkets. Wu Han has three parts, Wu Chang, Han Kou and Han Yang including 13 districts. Han Kou is the traditional area of commerce, Wu Chang has a good reputation of higher education and research in science, Han Yang is poorer than others.

Today in Wu Han, there are several international groups do their business. With the abundant funds, and plenty of goods, at first these supermarkets were popular. For example, Carrefour, Metro, Lotus etc.. In 1995, LaiLai Department Store ( Taiwan ) was the first overseas company that came to Wu Han. In 1998, Carrefour opened the first supermarket in Han Yang district. Until today there are 5 supermarkets of Carrefour in Wu Han. There are one in the Han Yang district, two in Han Kou district and two in Wu Chang. There are two stores of Metro in Wu Han, too. One of them is in the Han Kou (Qiaokou district) and another is in Wu Chang (Hongshan district). Lotus, a famous Thai group, has two stores in Han Kou and one store in Wu Chang. Therefore, Wal-Mart also opened one supermarket in 2004, today it owns 10 stores in Wu Han. And Price Smart also has one spot in Wu Chang which started its business in 2003. RT-Mart( from Taiwan) also has one supermarket in Han Kou. These supermarkets from overseas usually focus on the middle and higher income people. Some of them adopt the member system which exactly is not very popular for the majority. However, they can attract customers by some good quality and special foreign goods especially about dairy products and alcohol. Because the majority of customers would like to buy some goods with lower price and better quality, so, they will compare the differences among many supermarkets. Attractive price and special and better goods are the most advantageous elements of these supermarkets.

In the meantime, the development of local retailers also is great and has another feature. The three biggest local groups in Wu Han are Zhongbai(中百), Wushang(武商), Zhongshang(中商). Hanshang(汉商) is also famous but not so competitive as other three groups. They own supermarkets and department stores as well. Like Zhongbai Group has 6 department stores(4 of them in Wu Han), 30 electrical stores, about 60 warehouse-style supermarkets which usually are 5000-12000 square meters, and about 500 supermarkets (500-2000 square meters) which usually located in the community or neighborhoods. Under the dominant of Zhongbai Group, these brands of Zhongbai Cangchu (warehouse- style supermarket)or Zhongbai dianqi (electrical store) and Centre Department Store(武汉中心百货), Qingshan Department Store (青山百货), Jiangxia Centre Department (江夏中心百货), Wu Han East and West lake Centre Department Store (武汉东西湖百货) are famous in Wu Han. These middle or small size supermarket also play a role of convenient store, they provide comprehensive services like sending express mails, recharge bus card, pay for electricity bills and telephone bills, and also sell newspapers and magazines. Zhongbai Group is for the middle and lower income people. Although the purchasing power of these people, the quantity is huge. In the meantime, Zhongbai Group also extends its business including department store and supermarkets to the second and third tier cities around Wu Han. In these smaller cities, people usually poorer and the commerce is undeveloped. However, people tend to think that products in these supermarkets are better than the market and some occasional sales activities also attract a large number customer.

Wushang, another power in retail of Wu Han, has five department stores including Wu Han Department Store (武汉商场), one of the top 10 in China, and Wu Han Plaza (武汉广场) which opened in 1996 has been the champion of China of retail in consecutive six years, and Shi Mao Plaza (世贸广场), Jian Er Department Store (建二商场), and Wu Han International Plaza(武汉国际广场) which near the Wu Han Plaza and these two malls compose Wushang Mall now, has a mount of luxury brands. Furthermore, Wushang Discount (武商量贩) is the brand of supermarket under Wushang Group. In 2007, the first Super Life supermarket opened in the Wu Han International Plaza. Since 2007, Wushang Discount has opened 3 Super Life supermarkets in Wu Han also focus on the higher income customers. These supermarkets are famous for the better and more expensive food, in each supermarket has a special zone for import food. Although a few years before Wushang Group also extended their Wushang Discount to some second and third tier cities, they didn’t receive good profit. These years Wushang Group dedicates to the higher market in retail not only in terms of department stores but also in supermarkets.

Zhongshang Group owns several famous department stores as well, like Zhongnan Department Store ( 中南商场), Zhongshang Plaza (中商广场), Zhongshang Shopping Mall (中商销品茂), and seven department stores of Zhongshang in the cities smaller and near Wu Han. The Zhongshang Shopping Mall opened in 2005, and was the biggest shopping mall in the zona of central China. Zhongshang Fair Price (中商平价) is the brand of supermarket of Zhongshang Group. It has 20 branches in Wu Han, including six general mart. Although in Wu Han, Zhongshang does not own stores and supermarkets as much as Zhongbai and Wushang, Zhongshang extends the most branches in the other cities in Hu Bei Province.

Hanshang has three department stores in Wu Han, the Han Yang Department Store (汉阳商场), Hanshang 21st Century Shopping Mall (汉商21世纪购物中心) and Wu Zhan Shopping Mall (武展购物中心).

Apart from these huge groups, there are several companies also competitive in the area of department store. Sogo Department Store, from Taiwan, has a branch in the Han Kou (jianghan district). New World department store has six branches in Han Kou, Wu Chang, Hanyang respectively. Gran Ocean Department Store (大洋百货), also from Taiwan capital, has 4 branches in Wu Han. Qunguang Department Store (群光百货), also is owned by a Taiwanese, just has one branch in Wu Han, near Wu Han University in the zona of electricity market. Their customers mainly are young and dynamic white-collars, so this department store has a lot of brands fashion and modern. And Wangfujing Department Store (王府井百货), the branch of Wangfujing Group in Beijing, and Yintai Department Store (银泰百货) , the branch of Beijing Yintai Group, are popular for middle income people as well, because they have some good brands without too much expense.

Except Wushang Group, other groups mainly focus on the most, they engage in the medium brands to meet the needs of the middle class people and young people, and they sell same brands in this level and the same discount and the similar activities. Otherwise, most of these department stores, including the high level, have the similar layout in the department store. They usually compete with the tool of price and some new brands.

These years the chain store of exclusive shops are expanding rapidly. For example the pharmacies, the basic necessities’ shops. Jiuzhoutong (九州通), Zhonglian(中联), Tiancheng(天成), Laobaixing (老百姓) , Derentang(德仁堂), Tongjitang(同济堂), Mayinglong(马应龙) are famous chains of pharmacies in Wu Han. Usually they sell similar medicines but some of them also sell Chinese herbal medicine, and some adopt member system. These stores experience cruel price- -competitive. Watsons (屈臣氏), selling basic necessities like shampoo,cream, toothpaste and also some refreshments, the most famous chain in Asia has 24 branches in Wu Han. And Mannings(万宁) also has two branches in Wu Han. Watsons has a mount of low-price cosmetics and is very popular among women. Although Mannings in Hong Kong and other areas has influence, but in main land of China does not have influence as strong as Watsons.