Shanghai’s 30-Year-Old Bakery Struggles to Beat Lockdown Woes

Shanghai’s 30-Year-Old Bakery Struggles to Beat Lockdown Woes


Many Christine stores in the city haven’t opened since April.

A bakery chain that has operated in Shanghai for nearly 30 years is struggling to stay afloat as businesses continue to face the economic impact unleashed by the city’s two-month COVID-19 lockdown.

Christine stores in Shanghai have remained shut since the citywide lockdown on April 1, with some customers complaining they were also unable to redeem their prepaid vouchers, domestic media reported Wednesday. Review platform Dianping showed that over 150 stores in the city have “suspended operations,” while the chain’s online operations were halted since March 18 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Christine was founded in 1993 and has since become a ubiquitous name in Shanghai’s bakery scene, also expanding into neighboring Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. Sixth Tone’s calls to the company’s headquarters in Shanghai and a dozen local stores either went unanswered or failed to get through Thursday.

The chain’s woes highlight the hardships faced by local businesses in the aftermath of the lockdown. Many small and medium-sized businesses, including those in the service sector, are struggling to bounce back, despite the local government’s policies to offer easier access to financing and rental subsidies.

But some firms, including Hong Kong-listed Christine International Holdings, the bakery chain’s parent company, were in a poor financial state even before the pandemic started. Christine International Holding’s annual financial reports show it has incurred losses since 2013, with the pandemic only making the losses worse last year.

“The continued spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 dealt a heavy blow to various industries, especially the consumer sector, as consumer confidence weakened,” said the latest annual report released in April. “Revenue for the year was still down due to a sluggish macro consumer environment.”

While the company partly attributes its losses to waning consumer spending, consumers blame the company for not keeping up with the times. On microblogging platform Weibo, users said Christine lacked innovation in its product design and failed to keep up with consumers’ increasingly diversified preferences in recent years.

“Its products don’t have much that appeals to me,” a Shanghai resident surnamed Niu told Sixth Tone.

Niu said she only visited the store to buy baked goods using prepaid cards given by her employer. She said she would not return to the store once the cards ran out of credit.

Shanghai regulators that monitor the use of prepaid cards have downgraded the company’s credit rating to its second-lowest level, warning consumers of the risks of failing to make payments through such cards at Christine.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: A Christine store in Shanghai, July 20, 2022. IC)

Download the new Sixth Tone app at the App Store or Google Play

APK file for Android:
(Copy URL and open in browser)


硬核观察 #690 苹果将发布 Lockdown 模式以抵御间谍软件攻击Bunker Hunters: Mapping Shanghai’s Remaining FortificationsLearning the True Meaning of Freedom a Gift for Children’s DayIn 2022, Students Are Struggling to Cope. So Are Their Teachers.Freight or Flight: COVID Wake Leaves Shanghai Port High and DryHow a 300-Year-Old Dictionary Birthed China’s Comic SansShanghai Promises End to Lockdown for 96% of PopulationVideo of Women Brutally Attacked in Restaurant Shocks ChinaTrove of Discarded Cassette Tapes Brings Back a Lost ShanghaiChinese Soccer’s Financial Woes Deepen as Another Club Folds喜见攻克肝癌的新曙光Shanghai’s Foreign Companies Strive to Bounce Back Post LockdownThe Yangtze’s Worst Drought in 61 Years, VisualizedShanghai Lockdown Disrupts Wedding Plans on Day for LoversChinese Embrace Remote Work — Just Not Under LockdownA Shanghai District Declares Snap Lockdown for COVID TestingOn Dialysis in China? Pray There Isn’t a Lockdown.In Training Machines, China’s Disabled Find New Hope, Old WoesShanghai Emerges From Lockdown to Familiar Sights and SoundsA Top Archaeology Institute Struggles to Hire Archaeologists又摔伤肋骨了,唉.....Young Chinese Shunned Marriage. Now, They Want Singles’ Rights.Hacking, Hugging, and Healing | AGM 2022, Keynotes & Election写在父亲忌日Social Network: How Shanghai Stemmed the Surge, 100 Years AgoShanghai Rental Market Sees ‘Abrupt’ Post-Lockdown Growth如何使用 Dockerfile 创建自定义 Docker 镜像 | Linux 中国修车灯和车辆稳定控制Shanghai Reopening Diary: Why Don’t We Always Let the Weeds Grow跑马的风险A Visionary Principal Fought China’s Education System. He Lost.如何在 Ubuntu 22.04 LTS 中安装 Docker 和 Docker Compose | Linux 中国For Women Delivery Drivers, Gig Work Feels Like a Guy’s WorldTrain to Chengdu: Two Students Reflect on Leaving ShanghaiK-town or Downtown? 洛杉矶AB面图鉴