Photo: Courtesy of Alibaba
Presales for the Double 11 shopping festival, China’s biggest annual online shopping spree that officially falls on November 11 each year, came earlier this year, as major e-commerce platforms kicked off the event at 8 pm on Wednesday, four hours earlier than the previous years, eyeing robust growth in sales.
Sales during the shopping event have become a reliable barometer of Chinese consumers spending power, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and a major boost to consumption, which has increasingly become a crucial growth driver for the Chinese economy. This year’s event also comes as Chinese regulators tightened regulations in the sector.
Industry analysts said that this year’s event is expected to set a new sales record given the earlier start, massive promotions and widespread participation by domestic and global brands, which will significantly help boost consumer spending in the country.
This year’s Double 11 shopping festival is expected to be the biggest to date, with a record 290,000 brands participating and more than 14 million discount deals, Alibaba Group said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Wednesday. Alibaba first started the sales event to mark a day known as the Singles’ Day among Chinese youngsters.
Apart from Alibaba’s platforms, other leading e-commerce players in China, including JD.com, Douyin and Kuaishou also announced to kick off the event earlier.
E-commerce giant JD.com has said that it would present more than 400 million new products and more than 700 million national fashion commodities to drive up growth in new categories.
The number of brands and vendors participating in JD.com’s event has surpassed that in previous years, especially the number of fashion brands and this year’s event will see a 100 percent sales growth for 1,200 new categories compared with last year, the company said. It will also boost the sales of high-quality agricultural products worth more than 30 billion yuan.
The extended period of the Double 11 shopping festival signals a positive shift in the industry to chase after high-quality development after a vast expansion, Liu Dingding, a Beijing-based veteran industry analyst, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
“With the extension of shopping times, millions of netizens don’t have to staying up late to get special discounts. It also gives sufficient time for vendors to ensure an orderly delivery so that Double 11 can strike a balance between quantity and quality in development,” Liu said.
In 2020, Alibaba’s Tmall reported sales of 498.2 billion yuan ($77.91 billion) from November 1 to 11, 26 percent higher than the previous year and the highest growth rate over the past three years.
It is expected that this year’s Double 11 turnover will still increase in absolute terms, though the growth rate may slow down because of last year’s high base, Liu said.
Growth in online sales during the Double 11 shopping festival will offer much-needed support for domestic consumption, which is the biggest growth driver for the Chinese economy but has seen relatively slower recovery from the COVID-19 epidemic, analysts said.
Consumer spending contributed 64.8 percent to China’s economic growth in the first three quarters of 2021, which grew by 9.8 percent to hit a total of 82.31 trillion yuan ($12.8 trillion), data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Monday.
From January to September, online retail sales increased by 15.2 percent year-on-year, accounting for 23.6 percent of the total retail sales of consumer goods buoyed by new momentum and business format, according to the NBS.
“It is expected that consumption will continue to play a significant role in driving GDP growth in the fourth quarter,” Hu Qimu, chief research fellow at the Sinosteel Economic Research Institute, told the Global Times on Wednesday, noting that despite slower growth in the third and fourth quarters, China’s full-year GDP growth in 2021 will be around 8 percent.
In terms of innovative sales promotions, Alibaba said that livestreaming will continue to be a key consumer engagement method for brands and merchants to build awareness and drive sales this year. Starting on October 20, Taobao Live will feature 700 leading key opinion leaders, or KOLs, celebrities and brand representatives in livestream sessions.
In addition to livestreaming, platforms are also setting up new battle fields in lavishing digital coupons in the form of digital yuan.