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Infusing more color into the night

By Shi Jing in Shanghai | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-06-02 10:30
Infusing more color into the night

Authorities set to upgrade a series of night markets in the city to boost consumption levels and better cater to an international audience

Shanghai's nightlife scene is set to be bolstered following the municipal government's announcement that it plans to boost the city's night-time economy.

Wu Xingbao, deputy director of Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce, said during a municipal government news conference in mid-April that up to five night markets in the city will be designated as landmarks and further developed by the end of this year. The objective is to upgrade these venues so that they can become more appealing to an international audience.

According to the plans, there will be three night market formats, with the first being those in the streets and districts. An example of such a market that is currently operating is the expatriate street in suburban Shanghai's Minhang district. Night-time businesses account for up to 90 percent of the total turnover of the restaurants and bars located within this area.

The second format would be a cluster of food catering businesses such as snack stalls while the third would be a combination of commerce and tourism where the consumption experience is more interactive.

Wu said that the night markets will become a major driving force in building Shanghai into an consumption-driven city that can meet the demands of various consumer groups.

"The government's plan will very likely increase consumption at night. We will be able to see more business opportunities in dining, shopping, music, recreation and fitness spring up in the future," said Yan Yuejin, research director of E-House China R&D Institute.

Chao Gangling, a business marketing professor at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, believes that the city still has capacity to accommodate more types of night-time businesses. He added that the development of the night-time economy could also extend to businesses such as department stores as well as cultural and entertainment facilities.

According to the Shanghai Municipal Statistics Bureau, total retail sales of consumer goods reached 1.09 trillion yuan ($158.9 billion) in 2016, up 8 percent year-on-year.

Statistics provided by National Bureau of Statistics in mid-May showed that the disposable income per capita in Shanghai reached 15,841.08 yuan in the first quarter of this year, up 8.3 percent from a year earlier and topping all other Chinese cities. Meanwhile, residents of Shanghai are the biggest spenders in China, with the average consumption per person reaching 10,165.88 yuan in the first three months of 2017.

The planned international night markets are expected to boost the development of transportation, retailing and tourism sectors. The night markets will also provide more job opportunities, encourage people to establish their own businesses and improve the investment environment in the long run, said Wu.

However, Chao pointed out these night markets could cause noise pollution and be deemed as a nuisance by residents. He suggested that laws and regulations should first be established before the markets are opened to the public.

"We should not overlook the importance of night markets in terms of their cultural and commercial significance. Night markets can meet the consumption needs of the grassroots group but also can grow into a mainstream consumption mode," said Chao.

"At a time when consumers are bombarded with all kinds of news and messages online, there are plenty of reasons to affect consumers' decisions as to where and when to shop. Therefore, government and large business entities should work together to shape the night markets."

Commercial property operators have been quick to respond to the government's latest plan. By the end of this year, the Joy City department store, a popular shopping center in downtown Shanghai, will set up a new branch near Changfeng Park in western Shanghai.

The company said that 50 percent of its space would be for retailers, 33 percent for catering, followed by 12 percent for service and 5 percent for entertainment. Consumers can expect to find more than 200 brands in the new store.

Meanwhile, Ruihong Tiandi, a commercial development in northeast Shanghai, will introduce more bars in its second-phase project.

To support the night-time economy, Shanghai Shentong Metro Group Co Ltd had already started extending their operation hours for most metro lines since late April. Operation hours are usually extended during weekends and major holidays.

Carrefour China, which operates four 24-hour supermarkets in Shanghai, said that the extended operation hours of the metro is good news for retailers and businesses situated along the subway lines. It believes that similar retail businesses would extend their operating hours in order to capitalize on the situation.

In terms of night markets, the one on Changli Road in Pudong New District and another on Pengpu Road in northwestern Shanghai are currently the most prominent markets in the city thanks to their wide selection of food and snacks.

Every summer, people also flock to the night market set up in suburban Shanghai's Jinjiang Amusement Park to savor the Taiwan fare available. The amusement park receives more than 15,000 visitors every night. For more up-market offerings, expatriates and those from the younger generation can usually be found in the bars and restaurants in central Shanghai's Xintiandi and Jiashan Market.

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