Trade war restrains US consumption

By Xie Jun and Qi Xijia Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/28 18:38:40

Sales gap to widen between Double 11, Black Friday and president Jiang Fan says Tuesday that this year's Tmall Double 11 shopping festival will save at least 50 billion yuan for consumers. Photo: Courtesy of Alibaba

The US has lifted a rock, the so-called tariff weapon against China, only to drop it on its own feet in the form of its daily consumption growth, experts said.

To illustrate the point, they forecast that US sales during the upcoming Black Friday will see a widening gap with similar Chinese online shopping festivals under the shadow of the trade war. 

Last year's Black Friday pulled in a record $6.22 billion in online sales, data from Adobe Analytics showed. It was amazing, but it is not necessarily so, considering the fact that consumers only lavished one-fifth of their spending on a single Chinese e-commerce platform under Alibaba -- among all US online platforms for their respective shopping extravaganzas. 

Chinese online shoppers spent 213.5 billion yuan ($30.38 billion) during last year's Tmall Double 11 shopping festival, often known as the "Chinese Black Friday", according to data publicized by Alibaba. 

This year, organizations have mediocre expectations for the US' Black Friday. The National Retail Federation, for example, predicted that about the same number of consumers will shop for deals between Thursday and Saturday. Shopping will spike more than 13 percent year-on-year on Thursday, but it's likely to dip by about 2 percent from the year earlier on Friday and Saturday.  

The Global Times interviewed six consumers in the US. Four of them have a restrained or reduced shopping list for this year's Black Friday. One won't buy anything and another is hesitating. 

Snow Zhang, who is now studying at a university in Tucson, Arizona, convinced herself to buy one Sephora cosmetic set during this year's Black Friday presale. She said she needs to spend cautiously with the salary cut for her teaching assistant job.

"I feel the US economy is not at its peak now. The job market is not strong, and there are a lot of homeless people," she told the Global Times on Thursday. 

A 30-something consumer surnamed Chen, who now lives in a city in central US, said that he won't buy anything for himself during this year's Black Friday but is considering buying some pants and skincare products for his parents. 

"Online stores usually give discounts code of 30-50 percent off for Black Friday, but stores in China sometimes have 60 percent discounts for Double 11," he said. 

None is like the frenzied behavior of Chinese online shoppers, some of whom lavished more than 10,000 yuan on nearly 30 items during this year's Double 11 event, according to previous interviews made by the Global Times.

"It goes without saying that Black Friday can't compare with Double 11 whether in terms of sales volume or growth. The gap will only widen and the situation will be grimmer for Christmas sales," Zhang Yi, CEO of iiMedia Research and also a veteran consumption observer, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

One important reason, he said, is that the tariff increases levied by the US government on Chinese imports have raised prices on many daily necessities, the bulk of Black Friday transactions.

In comparison, Chinese consumers' spending abilities are too strong to be hampered by tariff increases, he said, adding that many overseas businesspeople also expressed their admiration for the Chinese market to him during the recent China International Import Expo. 

China achieved GDP growth of 6.6 percent in 2018. The US grew 2.9 percent.


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