Colombian Retail

When you think of Colombia, what’s the first word that comes to mind? Now, have you ever been to Colombia?

One of the advantages of travel is being able to see first-hand how the world really is as opposed to how you’re told it is.  Retail is one of those areas that can help “paint the picture” as it were of an overall general progress of a nation.  It is a broad reflection of a country’s economy and infrastructure – and sometimes you’ll find yourself to be even surprised that what you thought was one way turns out to not only be different that your expectations, but even beyond what’s in your own backyard.  (Airports are like that too.  If you look at say LaGuardia then compare it to some of the airports found in Asia today there simply is no comparison).

Here are some photos I took earlier this year in Medellin while walking through a well known mall in the city.  You’ll see the retail shops of certain Colombian brands you may have not even know existed.  You’ll also see UK and American brands.  The Banana Republic in this mall is nicer that the one at the mall in my area of Atlanta.

Brands are crossing borders into territory they used to never be seen in.  And some of these brands are able to source production “locally” and sell it locally since Colombia is a producer of apparel.

The retail scene is Colombia is on the move and no doubt this is also happening in other key Latin American cities. The interesting thing is that the shelf pricing is about the same as in the USA but the general income levels are not.

In any event, getting yourself to see the world in person gives you a perspective on how things are and how things move that nothing else can replace.

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Chinese Retail

Retail in Asia is at a completely other level than here in the USA and in China it’s particularly intense. The interesting thing about China (and in this photo taken in Shanghai on West Nanjing Road) is that virtually all wealth is new money – and when I say “new” I mean in the past 15-20 years new.  There is really no such thing in China as “old money” because there just was not any wealth in the society outside of a handful of folks.  As such, the new money Chinese have tended to flaunt their wealth.

I was at a presentation in Hong Kong where the regional director of LVMH was giving an amazing presentation about this subject and he said the bulk of billionaires in China are in their forties and the overwhelming amount of millionaires in China are in their thirties.  The retail scene in China reflects this too.  When it’s nice in China, it’s really nice.  There is a downside to this as well, and the Chinese are somewhat developing a reputation for being perhaps a bit too brand conscience and there are some side effects with this (which perhaps I’ll get into on a future post), but for now, this photo paints a bit of the picture of the scene in retail – and this is but one corner on West Nanjing Road – you should see the rest of it.