Chinese tourists as the big shoppers

Recently the increasing number of Chinese tourists coming to Japan is in the news; even on TV earlier this week (channel 4). According to the Yomiuri Shimbun since July 1 the requirements for a tourist visa for individual Chinese has changed. Previously individual tourist visas were granted solely to wealthy Chinese. Now from July 1 onwards “middle-class Chinese” of a certain income level and employment status are included (channel 4: yearly salary of about JPY Mio 1.5). While at first this yearly salary might sound rather low, just compare it to the actual local price of a 2h foot massage and manicure for a total of JPY 600.
For Japanese a potential market of about 16 million Chinese tourists belonging to the very rich plus middle class has become very interesting. The number of visas issued this year from July 1-23 increased about 5 times compared to last year up to 5,386 visas. With the example of a 2 day shopping package tour by ship from Shanghai to Fukuoka, channel 4 presented an average of JPY 240,000 spent on Japanese goods.
But what products are actually so popular? According to channel 4 Chinese prefer to buy 52.8% electronic goods, 43.5% Shibuya girl style fashion, 43% food and 41.2% cosmetics. The same finding are presented by Yomimuri Shimbun: “Some Chinese customers buy four or five rice cookers,” an official of Bic Camera Inc. said. Likewise, a representative of Matsuya department store in Ginza, Tokyo, said, “Some Chinese customers buy several hundreds of thousands of yen worth of cosmetics.”
It seems that the Japanese government has set a target of 1.8 Mio Chinese tourists for 2010. Looking at the challenging business relationship of both countries in the past, the sudden influx of cash rich Chinese will most likely change the opinion locally rather quickly.

Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)

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