Looking outside her Beijing coffee shop where seven other nearby cafes including a Starbucks compete for customers, Huang Ying is simply glad to still be in business.
In the 17 years since opening her cafe in the trendy 798 Art Zone district, making money has gotten harder – even before the coronavirus. Rent and labour costs have increased while rival after rival waded into a market that has failed to live up to expectations.
“Our profit can’t compare with the old days,” she said. “I raised prices by 10% in 2017 but that has done little to offset the jump in costs.”
As a coffee market, China exerts a magnetic pull for Western brands keen to emulate the success of Starbucks Corp which has over 4,400 stores in China and is still expanding. Since last year, Canada’s Tim Hortons has opened about 60 stores in China while Italy’s Lavazza and Sweden’s Wayne’s Coffee have also made forays into the market.