“With gambling revenues that dwarf those of Las Vegas and non-stop retail expansion, why are there so many mixed messages about China’s gambling mecca?”
On paper, the shopping opportunities in Macau should impress even the most worldly and sophisticated of travellers. For over a decade, fashion and luxury brands have been clamouring to cash in on this Chinese gambling mecca, with one store opening after another. Yet despite the vast amount of money that flows through it, Macau has always lacked a certain je ne sais quoi.
As the only place in China where betting is legal, moneyed mainlanders have flooded the city for the better part of a decade, producing double digit year-on-year growth and, with that, a sizeable market for luxury goods — but always as an afterthought.
According to popular stereotypes, shopping in Macau is a flashy way for people to spend their winnings or else something for wives to idle away their time with while their husbands hit the tables.
In private, the verdict reached by many luxury brand executives is that Macau’s business is indeed lucrative, but the overall retail experience leaves something to be desired. As Wilhelm Schmid, chief executive of luxury watchmakers A. Lange & Söhne, once noted: “Macau is good for business, not brand building.”