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International Herald Leader: An Abnormal Phenomenon – China’s Luxury Goods Consumption

On May 20, the International Herald Leader, under Xinhua News, reported on the foundation laying ceremony for China’s biggest luxury shopping center in Shanghai. Among the ceremony attendees was French LVMH group President Beorne Arnold who expressed confidence in the Chinese market.

Beorne Arnold’s confidence is not unfounded. According to a research, in 2008, for the first time, China replaced the U.S. and became the second largest consumer of luxury goods in the world. However, China’s luxury goods consumption is a dysfunctional social phenomenon. The majority of luxury goods consumers are young people with less earning power who buy things in order to show off. Additionally, non-Chinese brands dominate the luxury goods market, which negatively impacts the expansion of China’s domestic brands. The consumption also does not help the tens of millions of Chinese who are living below the poverty line. Per China’s present poverty relief standard, over 40 million people live below poverty line. Using the UN’s poverty standard, the number is over 150 million.

Source: International Herald Leader, May 25, 2009.