(Repeats story that ran on Sunday with no change in text)
* Weaker yuan among reasons Chinese prefer to shop at home
* China's rich a third of world's luxury shoppers
* China's planners encourage consumption in economic pivot
* Foreign brands faring better than local ones
* Picture less rosy in Hong Kong
By Jackie Cai and Jake Spring
SHANGHAI/BEIJING, Dec 4 China's wealthiest
shoppers are spending at home again, roused from a three-year
slumber by a weaker yuan, lower prices and a crackdown on
overseas sales agents - a welcome boost for the world's luxury
China's rich make up almost a third of the world's luxury
shoppers, up from only 2 percent around the turn of the
millennium. They are a driving force for global luxury, even
after a slight dip this year when fewer traveled abroad, in part
due to militant attacks in Europe.
For the past three years, a crackdown on corruption and
ostentation by President Xi Jinping dampened sales: big names
such as LVMH, owner of Louis Vuitton, shuttered
stores, particularly in second- and third-tier cities.
In 2016, however, fashion houses, jewelers and buyers say
that is changing, as China tries to shift away from an economy
driven by heavy investment in infrastructure and encourages
consumers to shop.
Burberry, Gucci-owner Kering, and Tiffany
have all reported an uptick in their most recent China
earnings, striking a note of optimism as the industry enters its
critical weeks between the Christmas rush and Chinese New Year.
"Everyone is benefiting from more traffic at the Chinese
(luxury) shops," said Bruno Lannes, a Shanghai-based partner
with consultancy Bain. It estimates a four-percent increase in
mainland China sales after three years of decline.
"Some brands in China are expecting 2016 to go back to their
peak in 2012, though the mix is different. I expect some brands
will beat that record," Lannes said.
SHOPPERS FOR HIRE
On the streets of Shanghai and Beijing, shoppers say they
are, indeed, splashing out more often at home.
The depreciating yuan means the currency doesn't buy as much
abroad, while luxury brands such as Chanel have moved since last
year to narrow once huge differences between prices in China and
At the same time, the government has cracked down on
daigous, shoppers-for-hire who trade off that price imbalance
and buy goods more cheaply overseas for mainland Chinese.
"Some brands price their products in China closer to the
overseas markets, such as Chanel," said Emma Yu, a 32-year-old
housewife exiting a Cartier store while shopping for a handbag
in Shanghai's financial district. "If there's only a few
thousand yuan difference, I would just buy it at home."
Another shopper outside a Louis Vuitton store in central
Shanghai, an accountant at a multinational who gave her surname
as Lu, said she was also buying more at home, especially if not
"I definitely bought more luxury items at home than in the
past since last year - a lot more - because it's convenient to
buy things here," she said, standing with a friend as she
compared a $5,700 purse she had bought with one in the shop
Mainland China has been seeing positive sales for a while,
Johann Rupert, chairman of Compagnie Financiere Richemont
, told investors last month.
"It seems that the Chinese government's intent to promote
growth through consumption rather than just investment is
bearing fruit," Rupert said.
Richemont, the owner of Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and a
dozen other luxury brands, reported "marked" October sales
growth in mainland China in its presentation to investors.
Kering, owner of Gucci and Saint Laurent, reported Asia
Pacific sales were up 24 percent in the third quarter as many
Chinese buyers stayed home. Burberry reported a double-digit
increase in China in the second quarter, excluding the impact of
changes to its offerings in Beijing.
Local brands have benefited less, analysts say. A spokesman
for jeweler Chao Tai Fook said sales in greater China
stabilized in September and October compared to declines in the
previous two quarters.
The picture is also less rosy in Hong Kong, once the prime
destination for Chinese shoppers wanting to avoid the hefty
taxes of mainland without requiring extensive travel. Even so,
after drops of over 20 percent a year in the last two years,
sales have stabilized, analysts and luxury companies said.
Mainland shoppers willing to splash out abroad, and wanting
a more original high-end experience, prefer to go to Japan,
Europe or even Macau, said Mariana Kou, an analyst at investment
bank CLSA. Tax incentives are no longer enough.
"Hong Kong has become a bit boring," Kou said.
(Additional reporting by Clara Ferreira Marques in SINGAPORE,
Donny Kwok in HONG KONG and BEIJING newsroom. Editing by Bill