Alibaba Group and JD.com, e-commerce giants in China, have reported robust performance during this year’s Singles Day sales, indicating growth for their respective online sales platforms.
The Singles Day shopping festival, initially a 24-hour event on November 11 in China, has evolved into weeks of promotions across major e-commerce platforms.
Alibaba’s Tmall and Taobao platforms experienced “positive” growth, while JD.com celebrated a “record high” in gross merchandising volume (GMV) during the sales period. The festival, now in its 15th year, is closely monitored as a barometer of consumer confidence, with this year’s sales seen as crucial amid economic uncertainties and a slow recovery.
Unlike previous years, Alibaba did not disclose the specific yuan value of its sales, following a trend initiated in 2022 during the height of COVID-19 restrictions. The move reflects the evolving dynamics of the festival, with the emphasis shifting from headline figures to overall market trends.
To maintain competitiveness, Alibaba urged merchants to offer rock-bottom prices, presenting 80 million products at their lowest prices for the event. This strategy was aimed at countering the influence of competitors like Douyin and Pinduoduo, who have reshaped the Chinese e-commerce landscape with year-round discounts.
Steep discounts of 40-50 percent were prevalent, a departure from previous years. A recent report by Bain and Company revealed that 77 percent of surveyed consumers planned to spend less or the same compared to the previous year. Spending focused on essential items like tissues, handwash, instant noodles, and pet food, with discretionary purchases like home appliances and furniture seeing a decline.
Despite consultancies predicting GMV growth of 14-18 percent, the final sales picture is yet to emerge. Return rates are expected to be high as consumers take advantage of discounts, potentially affecting the accuracy of GMV figures. Health and wellness-related products, as well as outdoor lifestyle items, were predicted to perform well. Notably, global brands like Nike and Lululemon were expected to be best-sellers, with Alibaba reporting a 300 percent surge in road bike sales within the first hour of the event.
However, traditional strong performers like color cosmetics faced challenges due to persistently low makeup demand nearly a year after China lifted strict COVID-19 restrictions. As the industry awaits the complete sales data, the impact of this year’s Singles Day on China’s e-commerce landscape remains a subject of keen observation.