By  on March 17, 2014

CHENGDU, China — The sun rarely shines in this city of 14 million located in the southwest of China’s vast interior, which is known for its tea culture, panda refuges, traditional gardens and laid-back milieu. Residents say the dearth of blue skies is, like in many Chinese cities, from pollution and also because Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, is located in a basin surrounded by mountains, which prevent the clouds from rarely blowing away.

Despite the gray skies, Chengdu is quickly becoming a bright spot for retailers, especially high-end and luxury brands that in recent months have reined in expansion plans across the country while re-strategizing their overall presence in China due to changing consumer preferences, a cooling luxury market and a retail sector evolving beyond the once commonplace cookie-cutter shopping mall landscape.

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