Midyear “618” shopping festival kicks off today. eMarketer: “Chinese online retail sales will rise 16% to $2.09 trillion”
Chinese shoppers are pushing online retail to new heights. During the country’s coronavirus lockdown, consumers got used to ordering ingredients online for their families, something that a lot of people had never tried before.
Although Chinese stores began to gradually reopen from February – March, mostly of consumers are still enjoying the convenience of buying online and staying in for meals.
People are used to stay home cooking now. With China’s top e-commerce platforms such as JD.com, Pinduoduo and Alibaba’s Tmall busy working toward the climax of their annual early summer “618 Shopping Festival” promotional sales on Thursday, they are getting a crucial lift from consumers who have yet to return to their pre-lockdown shopping habits, experts said.
For example, since June 12th, JD Fresh, JD.com’s online fresh food business, has increased the procurement volume by 200% that of the normal daily average, especially for the procurement of meat, poultry, eggs, fruit and vegetables.
While overall Chinese retail sales, which include spending by households, governments and businesses, fell 2.8% year-on-year in Mayfrom a year before, an improvement if compered with the 7.5% slump in April, online sales rose 22%, according to data released June 15. Chinese online retail sales will rise 16% to $2.09 trillion while total retail revenues contract 4% to $5.07 trillion, according to US research company eMarketer. Meantime, China’s malls remain quiet. “There are fewer customers these days,” said a wine vendor in a middle-class Shanghai mall home to outlets of international brands like Carrefour, Watsons and KFC.
This would put China’s overall retail market on course to be the world’s largest this year, eMarketer forecasts, as retailers in the US, the current leading market, have been much harder hit by COVID-19, and to overtake traditional Chinese retail in volume by 2022, said analysts.
The coronavirus pandemic appears to have created a mass of pent-up spending just waiting to break free. And luxury e-commerce are benefiting too. Wealthy people unable to go on holiday abroad because of the coronavirus are increasingly putting that money toward shopping. Online stores that sell Louis Vuitton bags and other luxury brand goods are actually running low on inventory. Chinese luxury spending is expected to double to $169.7 billion by 2025, delivering 65% of growth in the market globally, a McKinsey report said.
Chinese shoppers who were knuckled down in survival mode during the worst of the country’s COVID-19 outbreak are splashing out again and the use of discount online vouchers financed by local governments has also helped restart consumption. And online shopping platforms boosted products sales, even with new initiatives.
JD.com is spending $1.41 billion to subsidize promotions during the “618” event, which kicks off today and commemorates the company’s online launch on June 18, 1998. But much as JD.com has made inroads into Alibaba’s traditional showcase “Single’s Day” shopping sales set each year for Nov. 11, Alibaba’s platforms have taken some of the spotlight away from JD.com’s signature event, too.
According to data, Tmall has delivered RMB 1.35 billion in cash coupons to its users today. Participating vendors on Alibaba’s Tmall saw gross sales volumes rise 50% in the first 10 hours of this month’s promotional event on June 1 compared with a year before, according to Jefferies technology analyst Thomas Chong. Some 200 brands saw their gross volumes go up 10-fold over the first nine days of the shopping festival, he noted.