The Chinese night scene enters the mall

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In China, luxury shopping malls are becoming unexpected nightlife destinations.

Shanghai shopping malls including K11, TX Huaihai and Bohui Plaza are opening nightclubs alongside luxury and fashion stores to lure visitors and attract a new wave of traffic after retailers close. This ushers in an era of “night economy” in China and adds a competitive edge to malls vying to become cultural nightlife destinations in addition to shopping malls.

According to a 2019 study by RET China Commercial Real Estate Research Center, nighttime commercial sales in Shanghai account for 62% of spending. That year, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Chongqing, Nanjing and other cities successively introduced night economic development measures. The scope of the night economy covers catering, transportation, shopping, exhibitions, entertainment, tourism and other industries.

IAPM Mall was an early adopter of “night entertainment”, a concept originating in Hong Kong that extended the mall’s opening hours to 11 p.m., while cinemas and open-air dining areas air remained open until early morning. Today, malls are taking the concept further by introducing nightclubs into the mix of retail, dining and entertainment, with more understanding of the idea since the pandemic began. Shanghai has led the way, with a nightlife culture that has exploded in recent years.

For malls, nightclubs can help drive foot traffic and sales to nearby fashion, beauty and luxury retailers. In Shanghai, nightclubs set up in malls often focus on central locations and crowds. TX Huaihai is now home to three nightclubs, Potent, Master and Whyfri; while Xintiandi Nanli Plaza on Xingye Road recently opened Grnd Cntrl. Part of the appeal for club owners is the logistical ease. “The country has basic requirements for the operation of sites, [and] it is easier for some malls to meet these requirements,” says Max Shen, manager of Potent nightclub.

Shanghai-based womenswear brand Lucency held its fashion show at Potent nightclub.

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Peggy P. Gilmore