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“Can you get ____ in China?” Well…

January 24, 2011

A Chinese KFC, or as it's known here, 肯德基 (kendeji)I’ve been back in Shanghai for a few weeks now, and I find myself craving a few brands from home that are not available here yet. Sticking with the theme of my last (about Gap), I thought I’d do some quick coverage of China’s Western retail scene.

When I was home for Christmas, I was often asked, “Can you get [brand_name] in China?” Or, “Do they have [store_name] in China?” The truth is, in most of China, nearly all western brands and stores do not exist. KFC is the exception; there are over 3,000 KFC’s in China, and the chain has penetrated even small, inland cities.

In first tier cities like Shanghai and Beijing, on the other hand, you can get quite a few famous brands, more and more all the time. And yes, loads of KFC; there are over 350 KFCs here, including one directly across the street from my apartment building.

There are two distinguishing characteristics about stores and brands in these cities. The first is that the more super-expensive and luxurious a brand is, the more likely you can get it in Shanghai. My guess is that this is because, up until quite recently, there was no semblance of a middle class in China. Even now, the existence of the “emerging middle class” is disputed by China experts.  Basically, you got really rich people and really poor people, so luxury brands arrived awhile ago, whereas mid-tier brands like The Gap have only just begun to trickle in.

The second trend is that the available brands and stores reflect how incredibly international Shanghai is. You have plenty of American stuff, but also tons of European, Australian, Canadian, and Japanese brands.  I won’t list most of those, except the really famous ones, as I would likely bore all my American readers who have never heard of such brands.

Also, FYI, there are a number of foreign-owned Western restaurants and chains that exist only locally. My favorite is Wagas because they have amazing pastas and a killer carrot cake (Rick hates it, though, because it’s overpriced). But anyway, on with the lists:

Some clothing/accessory brands you can get in Shanghai: The Gap, Burberry, Armani, Rolex, Guess, H&M, Calvin Klein, Swarovski, Cartier, Zara, Roxy/Quicksilver, Lacoste, Gucci,  Nike, Adidas, Prada, ESPRIT, Levi’s,  Tiffany & Co., American Apparel, Puma, Coach, Uniqlo (Japanese), Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Converse, Dickies, fcuk, Givenchy, Kate Spade, Lenscrafters, Marc Jacobs, Sephora

Some food chains in Shanghai: KFC, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Papa John’s, Burger King, Dairy Queen, Cold Stone (lots of ’em), Baskin Robins, Dunkin Donuts, Subway, Krispy Kreme, Auntie Ann’s Pretzels, Haagen Dasz, Carl’s Jr., TGI Friday’s, Applebees, California Pizza Kitchen, Hooters (lol)

Wishlist for brands/food I really wish I could get in Shanghai, but currently can’t: Anthropologie, Banana Republic, J Crew, Ann Taylor (and Ann Taylor LOFT) , Free People, Urban Outfitters, The Body Shop, Lulu Lemon, American Eagle Outfitters; Taco Bell, Peet’s Coffee, Jamba Juice, Red Robin, Chile’s

All in all, not too shabby. Just, as I’ve noted before, I have to pay a premium for some of this stuff, especially for coffee and things with cheese on them.

(A note on lack of posts lately: No, I did not abandon my New Year’s resolution. I got really busy at work and really sick with a nasty since my last post. Once I fall behind, it takes me awhile to get back on the horse. I’m all saddled up now.)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 23, 2011 2:56 am

    You’re too old for American Eagle…

    • March 10, 2011 9:45 am

      That’s what YOU’d like to think. But you’re wrong. I can still pull it off. I can totally convince people I’m 17, as long as they don’t start talking to me.

      • yvonne permalink
        January 16, 2012 3:09 pm

        I saw that Talbot’s is opening at Super Brands mall shortly. It’s not Ann Taylor, but it’s close enough (and I’m desperate for decent sized clothing!)

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