For a city known for its leisurely and relaxed approach to life, it's surprising that there aren't more 24-hour shops in Chengdu.
Prior to 2005, all that existed in the 24-hour convenience store market were the odd independent shops and a Huhui here and there that stayed open 'round the clock.
In August of that year, though, things changed: WOWO came along and started setting up shops on what seems like every street corner in Chengdu, establishing itself as the go-to spot in Chengdu for late-night snack and beer runs.
But starting next month, WOWO will see some competition. Hot on the heels of 7-Eleven's announcement that it intends to open an "unique and unparalleled convenience store" in Chengdu, old-timer Hongqi (Red Flag) Chain Store has declared that it is stepping up to the competition.
The Sichuan corporation announced that its first "Hongqi 24-Hour" shop will be officially open for business as of next month.
Although the company's chairman Cao Shiru announced that a generous investment has allowed Hongqi to move forward with its 24-hour brand, he won't divulge much else about the shops—such as where the first one will be located, what it will sell, or why they don't just keep the existing shops open 24 hours—in order to "keep the suspense."
WOWO general manager Tang Yaohua claims to be excited about the competition entering the market. "We welcome more convenience store brands in Chengdu. Together, we can increase the market and let more people enjoy the benefits," he said.
But in the meantime, WOWO, Hongqi, Huhui, and Wudongfeng chain stores are all bidding for spaces inside the soon-to-open Metro Line 1 stations and along the route. But rumor has it that 7-Eleven—the only global convenience-store brand among these—will occupy those positions. None of the brands have been able to confirm whether this is the case, however.