Luxury retailers including Hermes, Christian Louboutin and Tiffany are planting fresh flags on the Gold Coast in a bid to capitalise on a new generation of Chinese tourists that is spending up to three times the amount on luxury goods that other travellers spend.
The top-tier European and US retailers will open their doors on Thursday within the revamped Pacific Fair shopping centre on the Gold Coast, which is nearing the end of a $670 million expansion and a major transformation from a mass-market shopping mall into a designer destination.
The revamp comes amid a $1.7 billion investment wave throughout the region from deep-pocketed investors looking to capitalise on higher tourism and interest ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games. However, tourism tracking ahead of expectations has also prompted a wave of new, high-end retailers to set within the region for the first time.
“In the three years to 2015, international visitor expenditure on the Gold Coast increased by 47 per cent to a record $1.23bn. Meanwhile, international arrivals increased by 22 per cent to 901,000,” Gold Coast Tourism head Miles Roper told The Weekend Australian.
In 2015, the average amount spent by an international visitor to was $1361, excluding airfares, representing a 21 per cent increase in the past three years.
Yet some demographics appear to spending more than others. AMP Capital statistics indicated Chinese tourists are spending three times the amount on luxury retail than any other tourism demographic, according to retail head Bryan Hines.
The findings helped underpin the group’s decision to embark on its major retail upgrade, but have also come as a compelling drawcard for international retailers who have never had a presence in southeast Queensland before.
“I suppose it’s a question of critical mass and there’s an understanding that overseas visitor arrivals continue to climb, there’s huge investment going on at the airport to improve international accessibility, and once they are here, these visitors are looking for a premium retail experience,” Mr Hines said.
Salvatore Ferragamo, Kate Spade, Christian Louboutin, Kit & Ace and TUMI will open their doors for the first time on Thursday, alongside international brands Uniqlo and H&M.
Luxury stalwarts including Chanel, Givenchy, Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Rolex, Bally and Tiffany and Co will open at the centre throughout the year.
Meanwhile, Chinese travellers are the principal focus of the group’s “international ready” program, which is also aimed at encouraging more visitors from New Zealand, Korean, Malaysian and India into its centre.
The Gold Coast’s largest international market, China has been key to this growth in investment and international development interest in the region, according to Gold Coast Tourism’s Mr Roper. In the past three years, Chinese visitors to the Gold Coast increased by 54 per cent to 242,000 in 2015, he noted.
The impact on retail turnover has been profound. Even as Gold Coast population growth tracks above average at 1.9 per cent, retail trade in the region is projected to hit $12bn annually by 2019, up from a current level of $7bn.
The wave of consumer spending is also prompting other large-scale investors to capitalise on the trend, including The Star, which owns the Jupiters Casino complex, which is midway through a $375m transformation, part of which will double the food and beverage offering.
Guests within the hotel and casino are now spending twice as much on dining inside the complex than they have in the past, which has warranted a doubling in the number of food and restaurant options within the hotel.
Rival shopping centre owner Abacus Property Group is also spending $58m upgrading its Oasis Shopping Centre, which is within walking distance of Pacific Fair, in a move which is also linked to the growing popularity and use of the Gold Coast light rail.