What do the Chinese think of Arabs?

Sometimes a no is not so easy to understand for Chinese tourists. Not out of reluctance, but because they rarely use this word. And that's why it can happen, says Eduard Schöwe, Managing Director of Galeria Kaufhof am Marienplatz, that Chinese tourists don't immediately understand when an employee explains to them that they don't have any of the coveted suitcases from a Cologne manufacturer in stock, neither on the sales area, still in the warehouse. It doesn't help if they ask for their supervisor.

Of course, this anecdote only serves as an example of the fact that Chinese tourists tick differently when shopping than customers from Europe. Kaufhof managing director Schöwe ​​is still very happy to have the guests from China in his house and even employs an employee who speaks Chinese. After all, no nationality leaves any money in the city, neither the Arab guests nor the Russian ones.

This was the result of a new study that was presented on Tuesday in the House of Commerce. The Bavarian trade association commissioned BBE Handelsberatung to carry out this investigation. On six days at the end of August, Chinese-speaking employees interviewed 153 Chinese tourists in Neuhauser Strasse, Kaufingerstrasse and Marienplatz in order to better understand them. In times when many Munich residents prefer to do their shopping on their computers, retailers are placing their hopes in foreign tourists.

With good reason: a Chinese tourist spends 513 euros per day in Munich, according to the new study, and thus significantly more than Arab shopping tourists who spend 367 euros per capita in Munich shops. The trade association had already had their shopping behavior investigated in 2015 - and can now draw comparisons: While the Arab tourist manages nine shops in one day, a guest from China only visits four shops on average.

As the study has shown, tourists from China do not necessarily buy luxury items; 61 percent of Chinese guests preferred to buy in the "medium-priced segment". Food, clothing and perfumes, for example. Since a melamine scandal shook confidence in Chinese baby food in 2008, they have also been happy to stock up on powdered milk and similar products in drugstores. Housewares are also particularly popular.

German branded products are in demand

Of course not just any. As Christof Back, marketing employee at Kustermann, knows, Chinese customers attach great importance to German branded products, which can still have a seal of quality. Something similar can be heard from the shop that the German cutlery manufacturer Zwilling runs on the Weinstrasse. "By the bag," says branch manager Aron Hinkofer, customers from the Far East would carry the goods out of the store. Pots, knives or nail cases.

The employees speak English, of course, but this competence is not always in demand. For the sake of simplicity, some tourists showed a photo of the desired product on their smartphone, says Hinkofer. Most of them did some research in advance on the Internet - and knew exactly what they wanted. When it comes to a souvenir, they took out their smartphone in the shop and took a photo. This then goes from Munich to China and back again via Whatsapp. "The purchase decision is often made within a few minutes," says Hinkofer.

As a rule, the Chinese don't have much time in Munich, they spend an average of 2.1 days on the Isar. Most of them are traveling with a larger group and visit several cities at the same time, popular destinations in Germany are the Bavarian capital as well as Berlin, Cologne and - probably because of its international airport - Frankfurt.

Therefore, of course, the construction of the third runway is also important for Munich trade, says HBE President Ernst Läuger. "Because the first city a tourist visits has a lot going for it." In other words: If the plane from China lands in Frankfurt, the trade there will be more likely to enjoy good sales than the Munich-based company. As the study shows, the number of Chinese tourists on the Isar has increased by 10.8 percent since 2006, but has decreased by 0.5 percent since 2015. Especially in the autumn months of 2016, many tourists stayed away - in the time after the Munich rampage.

The Chinese reacted very sensitively to such reports, says Karin Baedeker from Munich Tourism. Nevertheless, there is still "great confidence" in the security of the city, and after the slump of the past few months things are now looking up again. The trade experts, on the other hand, do not want to overestimate the rampage as the reason for the decline. It is more of a "mixed situation" that is leading to declining visitor numbers: the stricter visa requirements certainly had an effect, but also the fact that the Chinese now have to pay an import tax of 25 percent on products bought abroad.

It is all the more important for retailers to adapt as well as possible to the needs of this target group. Cooperation with the Chinese tour operators are conceivable or the introduction of the payment system common in China in the shops. But above all: a polite, friendly tone in customer contact. Incidentally, it is not only appreciated by Chinese tourists.