This paper represents the first systematic attempt to develop an econometric model of retail rent determination in Chinese cities. It investigates rent determination in three major Chinese retail centres – Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou – over the period 1999 to 2012. The study was inspired by the conspicuous lack of research on the determinants of retail rents in China, which is surprising given the increased prevalence of international investment activity in retail property in China and as one of the biggest emerging markets, China’s enormous population, and rapid increase in consumer spending. In this paper a theoretical model of retail rent determination is constructed based on the inclusion of broad demand side and supply side influences. Subsequently, this model is estimated for the three markets considered and a preferred specification for each market is derived. Following on from this, a time series cross-sectional methodology is deployed to test the most important common rental influences across the three markets.