Shoppers in China have been tightening their purse strings, raising questions over how faltering consumer confidence could affect Saturday’s annual Singles’ Day online retail extravaganza.
Singles’ Day, also known as “Double 11,” was popularized by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴). In the days leading up to the event, sellers on Alibaba and elsewhere often slash prices and offer enticing deals.
Given prevailing jitters about jobs and a weak property market, it is unclear how this year’s festival will fare.
A Bain & Co survey of 3,000 Chinese shoppers found that more than three-quarters of respondents plan to spend less this year, or keep their spending level, given economic uncertainties.
Chinese consumers were much more eager to splurge before COVID-19 hit in 2020. Shoppers spent US$38 billion within 24 hours on Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms during Singles’ Day in 2019.
However, Chinese have become much more cautious over splurging out on extras, analysts say.
“The hype and excitement around Singles’ Day is sort of over,” China Market Research Group managing director Shaun Rein said. “Consumers have over the last nine months been getting discounts on a steady day-to-day basis, so they aren’t expecting major discounts on Singles’ Day except for consumables,” he said.
Rein said shoppers would likely be keener to pick up deals on daily necessities such as toothpaste, tissue paper and laundry detergent, rather than high-end cosmetics and luxury brands.
E-commerce platforms are emphasizing low prices for this year’s shopping spree event, hoping to attract value-conscious customers looking for good deals.
For this year’s campaign, Alibaba’s Tmall (天貓) boasted “Lowest prices on the Web,” while e-commerce platform JD.com Inc’s (京東) tagline for its Singles’ Day campaign is “Truly cheap.” Rival PDD Holdings Inc’s (拼多多) is “Low prices, every day.”
Some of their business strategies helped boost sales, it said.
JD.com yesterday said that its transaction volume, order and user numbers during the festival all hit another high, without providing specific figures.
It said that more than 60 brands have recorded more than 1 billion yuan (US$137 million) in sales, and that nearly 20,000 brands saw their transaction volume surge more than three times from the same period last year.
Earlier, the retailer said its new merchants saw their order numbers jump more than five times compared with the same period last month.
JD.com Consumption and Industry Development Research Institute senior researcher Lu Fei (陸飛) said the company’s sales figures showed there was still an “obvious” growth in consumption.
“The growth in the sales of mobile phones, jewelry and domestic appliances shows that there’s a user demand for quality growth, but undeniably, consumers are becoming more and more rational,” Lu said.
About 400 brands saw their gross merchandise value surpass 100 million yuan and 38,000 brands saw their GMV double year-on-year as of midnight on Saturday, an article on Alibaba’s Alizila news hub said.
The company’s Taobao (淘寶) and Tmall Group recorded growth in order numbers, among other areas, during the sale spree over the same period last year, it added.
Business volumes for express delivery service providers hit a new record during the sale period, China’s State Post Bureau said on Sunday.
Express delivery companies collected nearly 640 million express packages nationwide on Saturday, up 15.8 percent year-on-year, it said.
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