HONG KONG — The majority of stores in Paris may have reopened Monday in the aftermath of the shocking terrorist attacks but Chinese shoppers are likely to give the city a wide berth in the coming months, heading for other destinations in the euro zone.
While Paris has always been a leading shopping destination for Mainland Chinese tourists, the latest attacks, killing 129 including at least one Chinese national, have made shoppers jittery. It’s the second terrorist attack in Paris this year, following the Charlie Hebdo shooting which took the lives of 12 people in January.
But it’s not likely that those customers would return to Hong Kong or opt for trips elsewhere in Asia.
The weak euro has been one of the main drivers of Chinese spending abroad, Jacques Penhirin, partner and head of Greater China at consulting firm Oliver Wyman said. He predicts “other continental European countries will benefit, especially Italy,” but also says Paris should normalize after about three months.
Laurence Ouaknine, president of Paris- and Hong Kong-based luxury consultancy Au Coeur Du Luxe, said that the kind of customers who visit Hong Kong and the ones that make long-haul trips to Europe are distinct sets of consumers.
Hong Kong typically serves as a quick stop now for Mainland Chinese to pick up smaller, more mundane purchases, she said, while shoppers with higher spending power go further abroad in search of novel experiences.
She expects Paris retail to prove fairly resilient, and any impact from the weekend’s tragic events to dissipate quickly, as it did in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo shooting.
“Obviously, [the recent attacks are] much more impactful and Galeries Lafayette, LVMH [Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton], Printemps, Kering closed all of the stores in Paris on Saturday, so there is an impact for all the luxury brands. But I think it will be a very short impact,” she said.
The sites of the attacks were not tourist shopping destinations, she pointed out, but places for mainly young Parisians to hang out. “You have no luxury shops or brands around. You go there to have food, but not to shop” for luxury goods, Ouaknine said.