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China’s electric carmakers are paying top dollar to snap up prime storefronts

  • Electric car companies are becoming an important new tenant for shopping malls.
  • The new trend offers welcome relief to China's commercial property developers who are still reeling from the shock of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The vacancy rate for premium retail properties in Beijing was little changed at 8.7% in the third quarter, while the vacancy rate was even higher at 13.9%, for the city's Grade A office space, according to JLL.

In this article

Customers viewing electric vehicles at a Xpeng Motors store on Oct. 6, 2020 in Beijing, China.Visual China Group | Getty Images

BEIJING — Chinese electric carmakers are splashing out on prime retail space and taking up storefronts at shopping malls — a new trend that offers relief for China's commercial property developers who are still reeling from the shock of the coronavirus pandemic.

Electric vehicle makers in China want to attract the crowds of younger people who shop at malls, rather than opening standalone stores, said Ellen Wei, head of retail for property manager JLL China.

These companies can spend roughly twice per square meter compared with what a name-brand apparel chain might, Wei said, pointing to big budgets for next year and demand for premium ground-level space. In fact, one Chinese electric car brand plans to open 400 stores in 20 Chinese cities next year, she said, declining to name the client.

The confidence of electric automakers is increasing, Wei said, noting the brands are signing longer leases of one year, with the option to extend for another year. That's up from just a 12-month term previously, she said.

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