Here's a fairly typical China consumer story:
“My bank upgraded me to VIP after seeing the amount of money sent by friends in China,“ he said, “I would easily spend 10,000 euros in a month on hand bags.”
On a slightly more downhome note, the Clarks Shoes outlet on Market Street was rammed with Mandarin speakers last week, quite a few in what looked like family groups . I presume that mum and dad and maybe auntie and cousin had come over to visit the kid studying locally and were overjoyed to find that this coincided with the sales.
It took me back to the old days. Clarks have a kind of legendary reputation among Chinese students, apparently dating from the first tranche to come over and study here. I had a colleague once who was constantly processing orders for her family, who appeared in turn to be cornering the sensible shoe end of the gift economy. Her dad was a minor official somewhere within the Shanghai municipality and the folk I saw last week seemed to be at roughly the same level. No designer labels, much less polyester than there used to be, zip up jackets all over and quite a few weatherbeaten rural-looking faces. And boy, were they keen on their unfashionable footwear.
The state, and state of mind, of the Chinese middle classes is the occasional subject of chin pullers in the Western media. I think I can safely report a sighting in central Manchester. Folk seemed happy enough too, though I wouldn't extrapolate much from a bunch of people rummaging around the size sevens. I suppose the interesting thing is that at least some people at that level can get over here now, which may in turn be connected to the fact that the shoes I bought were made in Cambodia: the value chain doing its thing.