China will replace Japan as the world's top consumer of luxury goods by 2015, Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming predicted on Monday.
Speaking in a press conference of the Fourth Session of the 11th National People's Congress in Beijing, Chen said China's demand for high-end products is currently the second largest in the world, and it will surpass Japan's in four years, Xinhua News reported on Tuesday. "Consumption of high-end products in China rose 23 percent in 2010," Chen said, adding "the number of Chinese people shopping for luxury goods overseas increased 30 percent."
He credited the surge to growing income levels and quality of life amid China's economic development, as well as the burgeoning popularity of luxury brands among urban residents.
China spent an estimated 40 billion euros on luxury goods in 2010, showing 20 to 30 percent annual growth in recent years amid a dramatic increase in newly wealthy individuals and rapid urbanization. Meanwhile, Japan and third-place the U.S. are seeing their luxury goods consumption shrink due to the economic recession.
China accounts for 27.5 percent of global sales of high-end items, and is the largest customer of French brand Louis Vuitton.