Spring Sales Fever in China
Total retail sales in Beijing during the 2017 Spring Festival holiday period saw the highest growth in five years
The Lunar New Year sales figures of 120 Beijing-based businesses in the retail and services sectors – as monitored by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Commerce (BMCC) – amounted to Rmb4.68 billion, a 9.8 per cent increase year-on-year, representing the highest rate of sales growth in five years.
Overall, figures from the Ministry of Commerce showed that, from New Year’s Eve to the sixth day of the Chinese New Year (27 January-2 February 2017), total takings of retail and catering enterprises across the Chinese mainland exceeded Rmb840 billion, up 11.4 per cent over the same period last year. Traditional New Year goods, eco-friendly food, seasonal clothing, gold and silver ornaments, smart energy-saving home appliances and several new digital products were among the best-selling items for 2017.
An HKTDC survey found that Beijing sales performance over the 2017 Spring Festival period highlighted a number of diverse trends and shifts in consumer behaviour. Spurred by the festive atmosphere, sales were buoyant across the city, with many outlets well-prepared for the annual demand surge.
1. Department Stores
Department store sales revived notably this year. Indeed, it was the first year since 2014 that the 30 department stores monitored by the BMCC reported clear sales growth during the Spring Festival period. Yansha Youyi Shopping City, the Wangfujing Department Store, the Yansha Outlets and the Capital Outlets all reported sales upturns of 10 per cent or more. Apart from shopping for festive goods, consumers seemed increasingly inclined to spend on travel, cultural performances and sports and fitness training over the Spring Festival period. As a consequence, parks, ice rinks, ski resorts and cinemas throughout the city remained busy during the holiday period.
2. Local Flavours, Distinctive Characteristics
Demand was particularly strong for traditional Beijing-style festive goods. This saw such classic Beijing brands as Daoxiangcun and Quanjude being popular with both local residents and visitors to the city. Daoxiangcun’s classic Chinese pastry gift box, for instance, was a popular choice among those planning New Year visits to friends and family. Another popular choice was Quanjude’s five-spice roast duck gift box, which was available from a number of High Street retailers and online.
The city’s supermarkets also rose to the occasion, stocking up extensively and launching a number of festive promotions. The Wumart Supermarket, for instance, introduced a New Year’s Eve Dinner Drive, which offered discounts of up to 50 per cent on festive gift boxes. The Chaoshifa Supermarket, meanwhile, rolled out a Happy New Year Family Reunion promotion, offering WeChat users free gifts with any purchase above a designated amount, as well as the chance to win family gift coupons. As a result of such initiatives, the collective sales of Wumart, 7-Eleven, Lotte Mart and Friend grew by 10 per cent over the Spring Festival period.
As is traditional, there was also a surge in demand for gold and silver festive ornaments. Among the most popular items here were small ornaments featuring a rooster motif and so-called lucky coins. As part of its Lucky Year of the Rooster promotion, shoppers at the Caishikou Department Store were given free gifts and entered in lucky draws if they were reward-card holders who had spent above a certain limit. At the Guohua Shopping Mall, its New Year promotion offered a 50 per cent discount on workmanship fees as part of a trade-in scheme, while five times the standard level of reward points was also available for all purchases. Overall, the Caishikou Department Store’s retail sales enjoyed an eight per cent increase during the Chinese New Year period.
3. Online Shopping
Online sales were led by leading mainland online portal JD.com, which ran special promotions. Apart from guaranteeing deliveries throughout most of the holiday period, the promotions offered discounts on various goods. Online electrical appliance retailer suning.com gave out red packets to customers, as well as offer special deals on some imported items as part of its Super New Year Goods Festival. Another online retailer, Gome.com.cn, opted for a Stock Up for New Year promotion, offering discounts of up to 50 per cent for pre-orders of bedding, buy-two-get-10 per cent-off incentives for specific brands, as well as discount offers on all purchases of small electrical appliances above a specified value, and a 50 per cent discount on repeat purchases.
4. The Service Economy
This year’s Spring Festival saw consumers increasingly willing to spend on services, particularly those related to the leisure and entertainment sectors, including on travel, cultural performances and sports and fitness programmes. Parks throughout the city, as well as ice rinks and outlying ski resorts, were busy, as were playground facilities and cinemas.
5. Classic Brands and Mass-market Dining
This year, many well-established, high-quality catering businesses offered traditional and convenient New Year’s Eve dinner boxes, as well as a variety of Spring Festival takeout dishes. These New Year’s Eve dinner boxes typically cost between Rmb 200 and Rmb 500, price points that are considered generally affordable and value for money. Sales of takeout meal boxes traditionally surge over the Spring Festival period, with one popular outlet recording a one-day year-on-year sales growth of close to 50%.
The convenient booking services and special discounts offered by some restaurants via a number of consumer review sites, most notably Dianping, and several other online sales channels, were, by and large, well-received by consumers. Xiabu Xiabu, Ziguangyuan, Gongdefu and the Qingfeng Steamed Dumpling Shop were among the catering businesses monitored by the BMCC, with the four posting a collective sales growth in excess of 10 % across the 2017 Spring Festival period.