China will keep its borders largely closed until the second half of 2022, according to unnamed sources close to the central government, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.
The abundance of caution driving this decision, taken during a May meeting of the country’s State Council (according to the sources), is due to the country’s desire to keep China’s community cases of Covid-19 at virtually zero as it prepares for major events over the next year, including hosting the Winter Olympics in February.
Even though Chinese citizens may be able to leave the country and return (so long as they are vaccinated and undertake the 14 to 21 day quarantine mandated by individual jurisdictions within the country), it will certainly discourage non-essential travel until at least the end of 2022.
This is unwelcome news for retailers that have been waiting for the return of China’s travelling consumers since the pandemic first halted international travel between China and the rest of the world in the first quarter of 2020.
A likely side effect of China’s continued restrictions will be global fashion and luxury brands continuing to double-down on their in-country China investments in order to access its consumers shopping at home. Runway shows, store openings and exhibitions in China are expected to continue to proliferate over the course of the next 12 months.