SHANGHAI Reuters shut its flagship Shanghai store, its latest closure in China, where consumer demand has slumped amid COVID 19 lockdowns and the fast fashion retailer has suffered a backlash against companies that refuse to use Xinjiang cotton.
Although it was open earlier this month, the three-storey building in downtown Shanghai was boarded up on Friday with its H&M signage gone.
The opening of the Shanghai flagship store in 2007 led to the world's second-biggest fast-fashion retailer entering China. It had more than 500 stores in mainland China early last year, but its website lists only 376, including the flagship Shanghai store.
The company didn't say anything about it, citing a blackout period prior to its first-half earnings report on June 29.
Since Shanghai lifted a strict two-month lock-in, consumers have yet to return to malls in significant numbers, despite the fact that nearly a month has passed since.
After a letter in which H&M expressed concerns about forced labour in the Xinjiang region came to light in 2021, Chinese consumers have beaten a retreat from its products.
Other brands that publicly disavowed Xinjiang cotton such as Inditex, Nike and Adidas have suffered with Chinese netizens calling for boycotts and Chinese celebrities refusing to work with them.
The backlash against H&M, the first foreign retailer to express concerns, has been particularly harsh. Its products are not available on major Chinese e-commerce sites such as JD.com and Tmall.
UN experts and rights groups estimate over a million people, mainly Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities, have been detained in a vast system of camps in China's western Xinjiang region in recent years.
Many former inmates have said they were subject to ideological training and abuse in the camps. China denies all accusations of abuse.