Green Asia

China’s ‘Singles Day’ shopping bonanza loses its lustre


For the second year running, Singles Day sales should still exceed 1 trillion yuan, said Vincent Marion, co-founder of VO2 Asia Pacific, a consultancy specialising in the digital economy.

“However, sales are stagnating due to the change in Chinese consumer habits, which now favour savings. Consumers have become better educated, more demanding and more thoughtful in their spending,” he told AFP.

According to his firm, sales since Singles Day promotions began on October 24 were down 7.5 per cent year-on-year.

Noting consumers’ more conservative purchasing, Marion said 42 per cent of Singles shoppers this year ordered everyday consumer goods, and there were fewer luxury sector purchases.

Jacob Cooke, co-founder and CEO of Beijing-based e-commerce consulting firm WPIC Marketing + Technologies, told AFP that Singles Day had “lost its lustre” thanks to a combination of trends.

“The proliferation of livestreaming and secondary shopping festivals … means that the relative attraction of Singles Day as a time to load up on discounted goods has been reduced,” he said.

Livestreamers – who draw in millions for e-commerce giants in China with marathon online sales pitches – also say they are noticing a downturn compared to previous iterations of the shopping event.

“This year’s Singles Day online sales are not as good as last year or two years ago,” Liu Kai, an e-commerce livestreamer, told AFP.

The name of the event riffs on a tongue-in-cheek celebration of singlehood inspired by the four ones in its date – November 11, or 11/11.

But this year’s sales began on some platforms as early as late October.

Alibaba, like its main rival, withheld full sales figures for the shopping bonanza for the first time ever last year, saying instead that sales were flat from the year before.

The slowing sales follow an announcement this week that China slipped back into deflation in October, underscoring the work remaining for officials seeking to jumpstart demand.

Beijing has moved to shore up its ailing economy in recent months, unveiling a series of measures – particularly aimed at the ailing property sector – and announcing a huge infrastructure spending plan.

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