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Rich Chinese cool it on luxury as Beijing battles lavish lifestyles

Published time: January 17, 2014 10:34
AFP Photo / Mark Ralston

AFP Photo / Mark Ralston

Luxury spending by wealthy Chinese is down 15 percent on last year, while spending on gift-giving is in a dramatic 25 percent decline, as Beijing’s anti-corruption campaign raises fears over exchanging expensive gifts, says a 2014 Hurun Report.

Chinese people say they'll cut down on gift giving at the traditional New Year celebrations, “possibly due to the impact of anti-corruption initiatives and a slowdown in the economy”, Hurun said. According to a luxury consumer survey a quarter of people say they will not spend more than $826 (Rmb 5,000).

The average luxury spending was down from $280,000 (Rmb 1.77 million) last year to $240,000 (Rmb 1.5 million).

“For the first time, Louis Vuitton has lost its crown as the preferred brand for gifting by men, losing out to Hermès,” said the luxury report.

Beijing’s strict policy sowed fears among government officials over accepting expensive gifts, and among businesspeople in giving them.

Chinese officials are looking for more discreet gifts, something that can be consumed in the home, like medicine or a massage chair,” says Shaun Rein, of China Market Research in Shanghai. “People are telling us, they used to give an expensive gift because they expected something in return, but now the officials are in lockdown so they give something less valuable just to maintain the relationship.”

The crackdown on gifting has caused Swiss watch imports into China to fall 15 percent in the first 11 months of 2013.

According to the luxury research, 3 out of 10 Chinese millionaires are feeling “extremely confident” about the economy, but still it’s not stopping them from wanting to leave the country.

The number of wealthy individuals who have emigrated, or are planning to do so, rose from 60 to 64 per cent”, says the study. However only 15 percent wish to leave the country, the majority intends to have two homes, preferring US citizenship as an additional nationality.

The research additionally questioned the health status of the Chinese: 61 percent say they are not addicted to smoking, 40 percent claim to be non-drinkers, which is a 12 percent increase from 2013.

The Hurum survey reveals the lifestyle and brand preferences of China's wealthy and ever-changing consumer class, their spending habits and lifestyle changes. It surveyed surveyed 393 mainland Chinese with a personal wealth of $1.6 million or more.

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