Home Depot has learned about Chinese culture the hard way. The home improvement chain is shuttering its seven big-box stores there because the Chinese—who live mostly in apartments and have access to cheap labor—aren't interested in "do-it-yourself" supplies, the Wall Street Journal reports. So Home Depot plans to open specialty stores that offer paint and flooring or home decorations. Other US companies have walked in Home Depot's shoes, closing or adapting stores to suit the Chinese market.
Mattel, for example, closed its Barbie flagship store in China last year because the Chinese prefer to have their kids read books than play with plastic dolls. Among other US companies that had makeovers in China: KFC, which sells soy milk and egg tarts there, and McDonald's, which offers "bubble tea" (with tapioca balls). But not all business woes in China are cultural: An overflow of companies has heightened competition, and China's economic growth has slowed to its lowest point in three years.