The Shopping Trends of Tomorrow

March 31, 2020
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By Shelly Salomon, PTL Group

China, the world leader in the provision of transcendental shopping experiences has seen better days. The ongoing battle with the global Coronavirus outbreak has led to significant disruptions in the worlds of physical and digital sales. In other words, average costumer spending has dropped, buying habits have been breached, and certain products and consumer interests have transformed China’s sales and distributional landscapes. It’s of no doubt that we’re looking for a near end of the current crisis, and when we do reach this end-point it is important to recognize that some of the changes it has caused will be here to stay.

An article published in South China Morning Post highlights some consumption trends which we should be aware of when planning for the buying of tomorrow:

The past decade in China has been characterized by an increase in the general standards of living as China has seen many of its people enjoying a level of disposable income that was previously unknown to them. The result of all of this is the flourishing consumption culture that China boasts today. However, with millions of people locked-down at homes, avoiding being outside, China’s leisure and cultural life has been suspended and commercial activity is in a perpetual state of free-fall.

It’s more than just people buying less at present; they are also adjusting their shopping preferences in line with their changing needs with food expenses, replacing the likes of previously purchased entertainments, clothing or travel.

While analysts do predict that general consumption will rise again once the immediate impact of the crisis is over, the effects of this pandemic on consumption trends will be felt far into future:

Couch shopping

China is already recognized globally as an e-commerce pioneer and leader, but under the new circumstances, even China is about to break its own records. In a period when exposure to people is an actual risk, online shopping is the ideal solution for all forms of purchasing. The effect of this is that e-commerce platforms are evolving, becoming more dominant in terms of their scope and reach. The platforms of tomorrow will no doubt be more immersive and better adapted to the new consumption habits.


E-commerce, efficient and convenient as it may be, still requires a courier service to transport it and thus currently, it does not provide a zero human exposure solution to buying. With this in mind, many technology giants like Alibaba, Baidu and, have put robots into use that rely on artificial intelligence technologies to perform automated delivery services. It’s worth getting used to this reality as in the future, more robots and automated solutions will undoubtedly populate distribution companies’ messenger fleets in the future.

Back to the neighborhood

The centralized and crowded shopping malls have lost their attraction, for obvious reasons. Therefore, nearby small supermarkets, convenience stores and neighborhood pickup spots are witnessing a lot more footfall, especially in the areas which are most greatly affected by the virus.

Wash & eat

Though open street markets, traditional style of groceries buying and other less hygienic shopping places are a cultural linchpin in China, they are seen as the origin of both the SARS epidemic in 2003, and the current Coronavirus. This insight has raised the awareness of many to food safety, to the critical importance of cleanliness, freshness and health. This understanding, which has permeated Chinese public consciousness in recent months, is likely to affect food-purchasing patterns in the future, requiring food marketers to make adjustments and innovations.

So, what should we expect?

  1. A wave of technological innovations to improve the marketing, sales and distribution of the retail system.
  2. An acceleration in the implementation of big-data and AI technologies in the fields of consumption and distribution.
  3. A revival of community and neighborhood life, which will be expressed, among other ways, in a higher investment and development of local commerce centers, health and sports complexes.
  4. A rising demand for technological developments in the field of food supervision and the continued increase in demand for health products.

Now is the time to think deeply about aligning your business to China and the world’s new reality.

PTL Group’s professional team is able to help you with a wise management of the China business, aligning with the upcoming Chinese trends and regulations.
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