Merry Christmas Eve.
Suppose that you’ve been procrastinating or away on a trip. Your house is not decorated. You have not purchased any gifts. You don’t have any gift wrap. You are out of milk. You need a prescription refilled. You need a toothbrush and some shampoo.
Live in the city? Walk a maximum of 4-8 blocks to the nearest CVS (or Walgreens), likely open 24 hours. Live in the suburbs? Drive your pavement-melting SUV to the CVS that is 10 minutes away (maybe 20 in traffic?).
Suppose that you live in Shanghai, a city within a metro area with 35 million residents. Where’s the CVS or CVS-like store? Nowhere! A local friend said that Watsons was the closest, but it is more like the makeup section of a CVS. Note the lack of density in the photos below. Note also the air pollution mask section. (Also that the cash registers are at the back of the store; China seems to lack most of the anti-shoplifting measures that retailers have applied here in the U.S.)
(Also note the gender binarism in the restroom signage for the neighborhood mall in which this Watsons resides and the pedestrian overpass for the busy adjacent road.)
A Shanghai resident could likely get everything he/she/ze needed within less than an hour via delivery. Yet I think folks there would appreciate the serendipity of shopping in a CVS-style store.
For those who complain that the Chinese are trashing the planet via greenhouse gas emissions: Shanghai is actually saving the planet via government regulation. If you don’t bring your own bag, the merchant is required to charge you 5-10 cents for a plastic bag (as in the U.S., the result seems to be thick high-quality plastic bags, perhaps resulting in more energy use).
3 thoughts on “How to get rich in China: open a CVS clone”
Hmm. Interesting. Alibaba has tried to expand its online pharmacy into a kind of online CVS but I wonder why the big U.S. chains haven’t taken more of an interest in some brick-and-mortar stores there. Walgreens invested $416 million in Sinopharm Guoda in 2018
and people have been talking about the potential for Walgreens/CVS-type places for more than 10 years, but there have been a lot of hurdles, fits and starts. Maybe the 2020s are the years they will finally start to materialize.
> Also that the cash registers are at the back of the store; China seems to lack most of the anti-shoplifting measures that retailers have applied here in the U.S.
Oh yeah? Just try to walk out of there with a face mask without paying for it. That big slot across the top of the entrance is actually a huge pneumatic guillotine. They push the button, it comes flying down with a couple of robotic arms, slices you into six or seven big chunks and sucks up the pieces with a huge vacuum system that leads to a half-million gallon tank of lye in the basement. 10 seconds and it’s all over, the background music starts up again and nobody even bats an eye. That’s the last time you’ll shoplift in Shanghai, yankee. 🙂
Pretty sure US’s grocery bag tax will be $20 in no time, while China’s will stay 10 cents. You were in a very tourist focused area, where the stores have nothing but souvenirs for westerners. Rural China is like going back 200 years. It’s even more primitive than flyover states.
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