Marks & Spencer continues its expansion in Shanghai by opening its third store today, a 1,600 sq m two-floor store at the SkyMall in Xinzhuang (end of metro line 1).
On the face of it, it’s an odd choice (again). The mall is in the heart of a residential area, with most locals either working on the factory line or as office workers in tech companies nearby – call centre staff and so on. They don’t seem to be typical M&S shoppers.
However, all the premium brands are in the SkyMall – M&S is next to H&M and across the way from Zara. There’s also been a definite shift to the suburbs in Shanghai, with people fleeing high downtown rents and moving to the edges of the city. I would guess that the foreign retailers are betting that these exiles transform the area, and that the mall’s rents make good sense for them to get in early.
M&S is claiming that the SkyMall sees footfall of around 500,000 people a week, but on the evidence of a couple of hours spent there today, over the lunch break, that seems a bit toppy. There aren’t really any office workers nearby to fuel traffic. It may yet come good, but the grand opening was pretty sparsely attended today.
Meanwhile, M&S more fundamental problems still do not appear to have been solved. The sizing is still all wrong, running from 6 to 18 but weighted in many lines towards the larger sizes. Why M&S believes in stocking 18s when there will be no foreign customers at this outpost is a mystery. Instead, how about the size 2s and 4s that petite Shanghainese ladies might prefer?