Retail in Asia

Featured shows slowest growth ever in 618 mid-year sale

Beginning in 2004 to commemorate’s founding anniversary, the 618 event is China’s second largest shopping festival after Singles Day in November. However, recent reports show since the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been the slowest growth ever in 618 sales.

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Total sales by China’s e-commerce giant grew 10.3 percent for the 18 days to Sunday during the first major shopping festival since a recent COVID-19 outbreak, the company said, substantially down from the 2021 event’s growth of 27.7 percent.

Consumer appetite in the world’s second largest economy has been impacted by lockdowns to stop the Omicron variant of coronavirus and declining economic conditions, with this year’s figure being the slowest for the retailer.

According to the company’s official WeChat account, over the “618” period, Chinese customers spent CNY 379.3 billion (USD 56.48 billion) on JD’s platform.

“We are further improving delivery services in urban and rural areas,” stated in the statement, referring to efforts during the event that built on its supply chain infrastructure and digital intelligence technology.

Consultancy Syntun estimated the online e-commerce platforms including Alibaba’s Tmall marketplace, and Pinduoduo would generate CNY 582.6 billion (USD 86.75 billion) in sales this year, roughly level with last year’s CNY 578.5 billion (USD 86.4 billion). This is despite the efforts by e-commerce companies this year to simplify promotion restrictions and offer bigger discounts. It was observed that “consumer reaction was lacklustre.”

In China, shopping festivals have long been popular, with many customers deferring purchases in order to take advantage of the huge discounts offered to entice shoppers. However, there were already hints of waning consumer interest at such events last year, when Alibaba’s Singles Day frenzy saw sales growth of only 8.5 percent, which was also its weakest ever.

China’s fight to contain COVID-19 has resulted in a variety of lockdown measures in dozens of cities over the previous three months, affecting expenditures, livelihoods, and supply networks.

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Major e-commerce platforms pushed manufacturers to provide higher discounts for the 618 event this year to boost demand, but some companies and agents planned to pull back their participation.