Record sales for 618 shopping spree
Online festival boosts spending, economic growth: analysts
Published: Jun 01, 2021 07:42 PM
Employees of YTO Express sort packages at a distribution center in southwest China's Guizhou Province on November 11. Photo: IC

Employees of YTO Express sort packages at a distribution center in southwest China's Guizhou Province. Photo: IC

China's major e-commerce platforms including JD and Alibaba's Tmall kicked off this year's 618 mid-year shopping festival on Tuesday with record sales, in another testament to the massive buying power of Chinese consumers in a virus-free environment and the resilience of the Chinese economy.

Unlike previous years, this year's 618 e-commerce extravaganza has been extended with pre-sales beginning from May 24, and the event will last until June 20.

On the first day, JD saw its sales on JD Super - its online supermarket - surge more than seven times year-on-year, with many brands reporting better-than-expected sales, according to JD data.

The platform reported that the transaction volume of iPhones exceeded 100 million yuan ($15.7 million) in just five seconds, compared with five minutes for Xiaomi smartphones. In addition, local infant milk formula brand Feihe, Danish toy giant LEGO and UK consumer goods brand Unilever saw sales on JD jump 10 times, 15 times and 20 times year-on-year, respectively.

Data from Alibaba's Tmall showed on Tuesday that sales on its international channel surpassed that recorded the first day of the 618 event last year in just eight hours, as overseas spending declines amid the pandemic.

Within half day, sales of imported wine and healthcare products for pets surged by over 20 times year-on-year on Tmall International, imported home fragrance up by 135 percent and imported baby skin care products up over 90 percent, according to Tmall.

Chinese local brands are also standing out during this year's 618 event. For example, sales of domestic sports brands rose by four times year-on-year on JD, and those of domestic cosmetic brands skyrocketed 64 times.

Laptop brand Lenovo said on Tuesday morning that total sales of its PC products on all e-commerce platforms exceeded 100 million yuan within two minutes. 

Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun posted on Chinese social media Sina Weibo that 500,000 of its Xiaomi Note 10 series were sold within an hour.

During this year's 618 event, major e-commerce platforms are offering more shopping coupons and discounts, and they're also using livestreaming to shore up domestic consumption, which was battered by the prolonged pandemic.

Tmall said that 250,000 brands on the marketplace will participate in the event, which will be 2.5 times more than last year. Platforms are expected to offer subsidies worth 10 billion yuan through the 20-day event.

Analysts said that the impressive figures showcase continuous gains in domestic consumption that are behind the steady recovery of the Chinese economy, as well as renewed consumer confidence as China repeatedly beat back resurgence of the virus.

The large number of orders online will in turn drive up the fast development of manufacturing, logistics and more industries, contributing to upgraded industry chains and unimpeded flows in the economy, Tian Yun, a Beijing-based economist, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Apart from foreign and domestic retailers, many in China are also seeking to seize opportunities offered by the spending spree.

Wang Fengqing, a 38-year-old new livestreamer selling Chinese hanfu (traditional clothing) on Kuaishou, one of China's most popular short video-sharing platforms, told the Global Times on Tuesday that he is actively consulting Kuaishou staff about how to participate in the 618 event.

"I hope to attend the shopping spree next year when my fan base grows to about 150,000 from 40,000 now," he said, noting that he expects sales volume could grow three times by that point.

Despite sporadic coronavirus case spikes, the contribution of household consumption to the domestic economy will continue to increase for the rest of the year, thanks to increased household incomes and improved consumer sentiment, along with the economic recovery, Fu Linghui, spokesperson of the National Bureau of Statistics, said at a press conference in May.

China's economic outlook for the second quarter remains positive, with the month-on-month recovery trend set to continue, Cong Yi, a professor at the Tianjin University of Finance and Economics, told the Global Times.

He predicted that second-quarter GDP growth will reach 6-10 percent year-on-year.