Beijing: The Retail Response to the Economic Reform
By Yinshe Sun
The CSCA has a history of research on the commercial structure of international cities. This paper and a companion study explore the retail structure of Beijing. In the previous report, Shuguang Wang describes the retail activity in cross-section, while this study outline the transformations that have occurred since 1978.
Through the simple act of permitting private family businesses in retailing, the Chinese government initiated a massive transformation of Beijing's commercial landscape; a few years later it permitted foreign capital to invest in the city. Within 20 years the minimalist retail structure of the socialist economy was augmented by 200,000 family-run stalls in informal markets and 200,000 additional retail outlets within a profusion of retail centres, including shopping malls and luxury boutique strips. Retail sales have increased five-fold. Millions of dollars in commercial investments have transformed the landscape. It has been one of the most remarkable sequences of retail development in the last century.
The Centre is fortunate that Yinshe Sun has permitted us to publish parts of dissertation on the recent development of Beijing as his research includes several unique databases, as well as demonstrating his detailed understanding of the city.