The store opened just two days before Christmas, as debate played out over whether the holiday should be banned in the Communist country.
Christmas elves, a teddy bear parade, and a curiously slender Santa marked the opening of the five-storey emporium – double the size of Hamleys’ flagship London store – in the capital’s Wangfujing shopping district.
The launch comes two years after Chinese shoe company C.banner acquired Hamleys from its previous owner, France’s Groupe Ludendo, for 100 million ($153 million).
Daisy Yan, one of the hundreds of locals that flooded into the store, commented: “In China, the holiday is just for kids. It’s a time to have fun and get some new toys. This place is too expensive though. The toy car my son picked out costs 10 yuan more than most other stores.”
The well-loved British toy retailer, founded by William Hamley in London in 1760, already has branches in the cities of Nanjing and Xuzhou in China’s affluent eastern Jiangsu province.
It has been gradually expanding internationally since the mid-2000s, opening stores in Dubai and Moscow, among other cities.