OK, so we all know that the Chinese economy is growing at a breakneck pace. But what are the latest trends and must-have items in this growing economy? Recently, McKinsey & Company took a closer look at Chinese shopping habits to determine where potential growth spots may be.

China shops till it drops
It turns out that the Chinese love to shop, with those surveyed shopping 9.8 hours per week (as a comparison, the average American shops 3.6 hours per week). 41% of the Chinese shoppers surveyed said that shopping was their top leisure activity. Chinese shoppers are looking at shopping as an experience, with 60% looking for top brands in stores (even if the prices were way out of reach). 69% would buy these aspirational products if they could afford it. But just because the Chinese like to shop, that doesn't mean that they're buying, does it?

Well, it looks to be a little bit of both. McKinsey estimates that the Chinese market was No. 3 in retail sales last year -- behind only the U.S. and Japan, with $800 billion in sales -- and estimated to jump by more than 60% in the next five years, reaching $1.3 trillion annually by 2012. Yes, the Chinese are daydreaming about beautiful things that they can't afford (aren't we all?), but they are increasing their overall purchasing power in the process.

And the Chinese are not just looking to buy the cheapest thing out there. 52% of respondents thought that low price equals low quality, so only 12% of Chinese shoppers purchased the cheapest food available, no matter what the actual quality was.

Add retail stocks to your shopping list?
With the U.S. economy lagging, now is as good a time as any to start adding stocks with international growth prospects to your portfolio. Considering that power shopping is the newest Chinese trend, it isn't a bad idea to think about retail stocks with long-term global business opportunities as a way to boost your earnings.

High-end retailer Tiffany (NYSE: TIF) has been sparkling internationally, with 21% top-line growth in Asia for the last quarter, while Coach (NYSE: COH) continues to deliver double-digit international sales growth. But most Chinese consumers can't afford luxury goods such as these, so while well-off consumers shop for shiny baubles and bags, aspirational shoppers with real budgets have to look for other shopping opportunities.

Consider Avon Products (NYSE: AVP), which reported 29% growth in Chinese sales in its last quarter. Avon, with its personal shopping experience, has seen 99% growth in its Chinese sales force. While the brand may no longer be "cool," in the U.S., with Chinese women seeking a leisurely shopping experience, the Avon lady may deliver global revenue growth on-going.

Yum! Brands (NYSE: YUM) generated 12% same-store sales growth last quarter in China on KFC and Taco Bell -- not exactly what you would label high-class cuisine. But Yum! has really studied the Chinese market, combining U.S. favorites like fried chicken with Chinese classics like soup, noodles, and steamed vegetables to provide consumers with a taste of the U.S. that's tailored to the distinct tastes of the Chinese consumer.

A revived Just Do It campaign has helped Nike (NYSE: NKE) sales grow by almost 50% as the country prepares for the Olympics. Nike has said in the past that China is crucial to its future, and has been named one of the top 10 most admired companies in Asia, adding to its international allure.

A nation of shoppers
Of course, Chinese economic growth will be affected by the same factors that are slowing the U.S. economy right now, including fuel prices, which are federally regulated and have just jumped by 18%. But as wealth continues to steam ahead, so will the retail-based investing opportunities in this nation of power shoppers.

For related Foolishness:

Coach is a Stock Advisor selection. Looking for more investing advice? Give the Motley Fool's newsletters a try via the 30-day free trial.

Fool contributor Colleen Paulson does not own any of the stocks cited in this article and can't wait for the Olympics to start. The Fool's disclosure policy is a mall rat.