Chinese consumers have shown increasing demand for high-quality and intelligent products containing innovative technologies during this year's Singles Day shopping extravaganza, which has played a vital role in stimulating consumers' purchasing appetites and promoting a recovery in consumption, experts said.
While the country has announced measures to optimize its COVID-19 rules, domestic consumption is expected to further gain growth momentum in the coming months, they said, and called for more efforts to unleash consumers' purchasing potential and provide greater financial support for self-employed businesses, tourism, retailers, and entertainment and cultural sectors that have been affected by the pandemic.
As China's biggest online shopping event, the multiday promotional campaign has demonstrated the enormous vitality and resilience of consumer spending, despite pressure such as the COVID-19 pandemic and external uncertainties, industry observers said.
Data from Tmall, Alibaba's business-to-customer platform, showed 25,343 brands saw sales surpass 1 million yuan ($140,500) from 8 pm on Oct 31 to midnight on Friday. The turnover of more than 2,000 brands exceeded 10 million yuan during this period.
Smart toys, pet supplies, sporting goods and jewelry witnessed explosive growth. Sales of intelligent kitchen appliances, virtual reality equipment and smart watches skyrocketed 270 percent, 140 percent and 122 percent on a yearly basis, respectively, according to Tmall.
JD, another major e-commerce player, said sales of Apple iPhones surpassed 1 billion yuan in just one minute of the final promotion that kicked off at 8 pm on Thursday, while the transaction volume of mobile phones such as Xiaomi, Huawei, Honor and Oppo surged 200 percent year-on-year in the first 10 minutes of the promotion.
In addition, turnover of 87 international cosmetics brands jumped 200 percent year-on-year during the brief period.
"Consumption plays a fundamental role in China's economic development and is the main driving force boosting economic growth," said Wang Yun, a researcher at the Academy of Macroeconomic Research.
Wang said the Singles Day online shopping festival serves as a pivotal event in unleashing consumers' purchasing potential and bolstering a spending recovery. The consumption upgrade trend has not changed despite COVID-19 flare-ups, she said, adding that consumers are inclined to choose high-quality products and pursue exquisite lifestyles.
Wu Chaoming, deputy director of the Chasing International Economic Institute, said the latest improvements in COVID-19 containment measures are expected to spur consumer spending going forward.
The improvements, which aim to minimize the impact of the virus on the economy, will help boost consumer demand by brightening expectations of growth in economic activity and boosting people's ability and willingness to spend, Wu said.
Jason Yu, managing director of market research firm Kantar Worldpanel Greater China, said, "Chinese consumers have become more rational, and are carefully reviewing their needs and paying more attention to the quality of the things they buy during this year's shopping festival."
Yu said Chinese online retailers should take a longer-term perspective and regard 11-11 as an important part of their marketing strategies throughout the year. They also need to launch new products to attract a breed of new consumers, especially younger shoppers as well as seniors.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, in the January-September period, total retail sales of consumer goods reached 32.03 trillion yuan, up 0.7 percent year-on-year. Online retail sales rose 4 percent year-on-year to 9.59 trillion yuan in the first nine months. E-commerce has further demonstrated its role in driving consumption growth.
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