Shanghai is well known for its desire to become an international economic, financial, trade and shipping center. But now, building an international shopping center has been added to the city's great ambitions.
The first-ever citywide shopping festival, to be staged from September 16 to October 8, will be a major achievement toward that goal, according to a top official from the Municipal Economic Commission.
Zhang Xinsheng, deputy director of the commission and mastermind of the 2007 Shanghai Shopping Festival, said the city actually put forward the goal to build an international shopping paradise as early as 1995.
"The shopping festival will be a huge attraction for the city's fast-growing malls, shopping streets and commercial establishments," said Liu Rongming, who works for the festival.
The event will coincide with the annual 14th Shanghai Tourism Festival and the first Shanghai Import Commodity Fair, which will draw some 250 exhibitors from 12 countries and regions. A retailer conference, global opportunities and sourcing forum and a new product exhibition will also be held simultaneously.
More than 300 programs have so far been planned for the shopping festival, including shows on the qipao (a tight-waisted women's dress) cultural events, a world aquatic products fair, a Shanghai fish culture exhibition, and numerous large-scale shopping fairs.
Some 10,000 local retail businesses are expected to participate in the three-week festival. Organizers hope the festival, which is still only in its experimental stage, will one day be comparable to the popular annual shopping carnivals in Hong Kong and Dubai.
Shanghai has witnessed a rapid expansion of shopping spaces in the last few years.
Statistics show the city had 47 shopping centers by the end of last year, with revenue totaling some 31.82 billion yuan, up 27 percent over 2005.
"Shanghai jump-started building shopping malls, and the hardware has, in fact, surpassed those in some of the largest cities of the world," said Qi Xiaozhai, a retail analyst and head of the Shanghai Commercial Information Center.
But it will take many years to realize the city's dream of becoming the international shopping center.
(China Daily August 15, 2007)