HONG KONG (AP) – Chinese consumers are expected to spend billions on everything from fresh food to luxury items during this year’s one-day online shopping festival as the country recovers from the epidemic.
The shopping festival, which is the largest in the world and takes place every year on November 11th, is an annual extravaganza where Chinese e-commerce companies like Alibaba, JD.com and Pintudo offer generous discounts on their sites. Last year, shoppers spent $ 38.4 billion on Alibaba’s e-commerce sites Damal and Daoba.
This year the festival will be meticulously observed as a barometer for consumption in China, which is starting to recover from the corona virus infection after being locked up for several months earlier this year.
Analysts expect Chinese consumers to spend more on imported goods and foreign luxury brands as corona virus infection and tougher travel restrictions make it impossible for many Chinese tourists to travel internationally.
A study by consulting firm Oliver Wyman found that 86% of Chinese consumers are willing to spend more or less than last year’s single day celebration.
Sean Shen, Head of Customer and Strategy for EY in Greater China, said: “Over the past six months or so, rich families have actually spent more money. “We are also seeing an increase in purchases of luxury segment products due to international travel restrictions.”
Sales of electronics and health and healthcare products are also expected to rise as more people work from home and focus more on their health in the midst of infections, according to a report by Consulting Pine & Company.
To help businesses cope with the impact of the corona virus, online sites have extended the shopping festival season this year in hopes of boosting sales.
Alibaba and JD.com, the two largest e-commerce companies in the country, both began offering discounts on October 21, three weeks before November 11th. Some brands and merchants cut their prices into hundreds of millions of yuan (tens of millions of dollars) in sales within hours of the shopping festival.
Tang Chenghui, an electrical engineer living in Beijing, sees Singles Day as an opportunity to stockpile snacks and imported goods such as milk from Australia. Before the festival, Tang ordered 3 boxes of duck eggs, 10 packets of soybean milk powder, two boxes of yogurt, coffee and wine.
“I buy more snacks this year because I moved into a new apartment and there is enough storage space to store the snacks I want,” Tang said. “Some of these products are very cheap during the singles day discount.”
Unlike Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the United States, Singles Day in China is not just about deep bargaining. Alibaba promotes the concept of Singles Day and holds an annual exhibition on November 11 with popular shows to entertain shoppers.
E-commerce companies do not break the single day sales volume by brands, so it is difficult to know what stock foreign companies will get, although some companies may declare their own performance.
Sales via live streaming and Alibaba’s annual exhibition are part of a “shoplifting” trend that mixes shopping with entertainment.
Mini games on online shopping sites attract shoppers with deep discounts, while at the same time encouraging them to spend more time within the app.
“Because of COVID-19, brands and retailers have doubled their growth in the e-commerce and livestreaming business, and this year (single day) will be strong,” said Wang Xiafeng, a senior analyst at Forrester.
But millions of shoppers believe that many hours in mini-games are the best bargain, and some worry about seeing the problems needed to win such a discount.
“Black Friday discounts are better, and they are more direct,” said 27-year-old Liu Shiro, based in Beijing. “Now, I ask my friends to help me buy goods from the United States on Black Friday.”
“The rules surrounding the singles day discount are now becoming more and more complicated,” he said. “I usually spend my money on Black Friday and buy less on Singles Day.”
Sen C, an AP researcher based in Shanghai, contributed to the report.