Deserted high streets show that after decades of breakneck growth, the world’s second largest economy is faltering

Few people are shopping at the Beijing Yintai Centre, a high-end mall in the Chinese capital’s central business district. Store clerks say foot traffic has been low, even when holiday discounts were offered. Office workers walk past empty shops like Hermes, Dolce & Gabbana and Cartier, eating fruit they have brought for lunch.

Li Xin, 33, who works for a security company nearby, likes to check out the selection of handbags. Her favourites are Chanel and Tom Ford. But recently, she has decided to cut back. “This year I didn’t buy any new bags, because everyone has been saying: ‘Winter is coming’,” she said.

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