Online shopping bolsters recovery
The enthusiasm of Chinese consumers was again visible during the June 18 shopping carnival, and this has played a critical role in promoting the recovery of consumption and shoring up the economy despite pressure from a resurgence in domestic COVID-19 cases and an uncertain external environment, industry experts said.
JD, which initiated the midyear promotional event that officially kicked off on May 31 at 8 pm, said its transaction volume stood at 379.3 billion yuan ($56.5 billion) as of Saturday, an increase of 10.3 percent year-on-year from 343.8 billion yuan in 2021.
Alibaba Group's online marketplace Tmall did not disclose its gross merchandise volume during the nearly three-week-long e-commerce extravaganza.
JD said consumers have shown strong interest in the new generation of products with novel technologies, designs and functions. For instance, sales of gaming laptops priced at over 10,000 yuan grew by 120 percent year-on-year, while the transaction volume of smart vacuum cleaners and air fryers surged more than 300 percent in the same period.
"We observed that Chinese consumers have become more rational during the midyear promotion gala, and are inclined to choose higher-quality and new commodities," said Liu Hui, director of JD's Consumption and Industry Development Research Institute.
Liu emphasized that although the resurgence of the pandemic had an impact on consumption, the June 18 shopping festival injected vitality into the nation's consumer market and unleashed people's purchasing power.
Brand owners and manufacturers are increasingly attaching greater importance to the consumption demand of Generation Z－people born between the mid-1990s and the early 2010s－and offering new tailor-made products especially for them, Liu added.
Wang Yun, a researcher at the Academy of Macroeconomic Research, said major online retailers have stepped up efforts to offer steep discounts and shopping coupons during the midyear shopping festival, which not only stimulated purchasing by consumers that was dampened by COVID-19 flare-ups, but also bolstered the recovery of the economy.
With the pandemic contained more effectively and several policies to shore up consumption, China's consumer market is expected to post growth momentum in the second quarter and gradually recover from the impact of COVID-19, Wang said. She estimated that spending on big-ticket items and service-related consumption will see a strong rebound in the second half of the year.
Sharry Wu, EY Greater China consulting business transformation leader, said "We still see a strong investment appetite from all brands during such an important shopping festival which could contribute to over 30 percent of full year sales."
"People are eager to spend on things they have not tried or experienced before. New brands are now contributing up to 40 percent of e-commerce sales growth, according to recent research, and interest in local fashion brands has outpaced international brands," Wu said, adding that the main challenge will be how enterprises can better adapt to omnichannel consumption.
On-demand retail has become a key driver for offline retailers and the growth of omnichannel brands. Dada Group, a Chinese on-demand delivery and retail platform, said total sales rose 77 percent year-on-year between May 31 and Saturday, while the number of users placing orders through Shop Now, a one-hour delivery service, soared 400 percent compared with the same period last year.
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