Singles’ Day Sales Inject New Vitality into Online and Offline Consumption

The Singles’ Day (November 11), also known as “Double 11”, is the most exciting online shopping gala in mainland China, and has gradually developed into a cultural phenomenon. This year, Hong Kong businesses across various industries have participated in the extravaganza, offering exclusive promotions and deep discounts to attract consumers. With incredible discounts online and offline, Singles’ Day sales inject new vitality into the retail sector and consumption.

People are lining up at Chez Choux Puff store for Singles’ Day discounts. Photo: Scarlett Wang

Unleash Deep Discounts to Revive Sluggish Economy in Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s Singles’ Day sales show a diversity of types and channels, ranging from daily necessities retailing to airlines, and from small roadside stores to large online e-commerce platforms. Hong Kong’s largest health and beauty product chain store Mannings has launched the “11.11 Boundless Celebration”, with online website and offline stores synchronised discounts. On the day of Double 11, all Mannings stores enjoyed a 11 percent off, where the posters that can be seen all over the store had become the best way to entice customers.

Mannings stores put up Singles’ Day posters to attract customers. Photo: Scarlett Wang

“I didn’t realize there would be Singles’ Day promotions in Hong Kong,” said Lingxin Zhang, a 28-year-old frequent visitor to Hong Kong from Shenzhen. “No wonder there were many more people in the Mannings store today than usual.”

Though the Singles’ Day sales are not as popular in Hong Kong as it is on the mainland, many businesses have joined in for the first time this year, in response to the sluggish economic situation. “The economic growth of Hong Kong for the current year is set to fall short of previous projections, with external factors such as elevated interest rates and the performance of financial markets acting as constraints on the recovery of local consumption,” Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po wrote in his weekly blog.

According to JLL’s consumer survey in 2023, the recovery of Hong Kong’s retail market encounters numerous challenges. As a result of the fall of the RMB, changes in import duties in Mainland China, competition from other tourist destinations and changes in people’s consumption attitudes, Mainland Chinese tourists’ shopping expenditure in Hong Kong has decreased, posing difficulties to Hong Kong’s retail industry.

The online retailer HKTVMall is engaging its app users with e-vouchers worth HK$3,000 from November 2 to December 30, which can be used for a variety of goods, such as everyday items, personal care products and fashion accessories. In October, the platform experienced a 3% month-on-month increase in monthly gross merchandise value (GMV), reaching HK$711 million. Additionally, the number of monthly active app users rose by 2.3% to 1.67 million.

Growth Slows, But New Trends Emerge

Originating in 2009 as a brainchild of Alibaba Group, Singles’ Day has become a phenomenal shopping event in mainland China. In 2009, Taobao’s Singles’ Day GMV just exceeded 50 million yuan, but in the 15 years since, Singles’ Day consumption has grown at an astonishing rate. In 2018, Singles’ Day surpassed the traditional Western shopping festival “Black Friday”, which made it the world’s largest shopping gala. But in recent years, the growth rate of Singles’ Day GMV has slowed, and China’s two biggest e-commerce giants: Tmall and Jingdong, have both decided not to reveal sales figures in 2022 and beyond.

GMV of Taobao and Tmall in China’s Singles Day Shopping Gala from 2009 to 2021. Graph: Scarlett Wang

In light of the economic slowdown, most of Singles’ Day shoppers intend to either reduce their spending or maintain it at the same level as in 2022, according to a survey from Bain and Company. However, alongside the ever-present low-price strategy, some emerging trends are witnessing significant vitality, such as the rise of domestic brands and live-streaming e-commerce.

Linda is watching a store live streaming at Tmall. Photo: Scarlett Wang

“I’m rather lazy about learning Singles’ Day low-price shopping strategies,” said Linda Chan, a 20-year-old university student, who has done almost all of her purchases on Tmall live streaming. “But I’m really easily attracted to the live streaming. The ones recommended by Li Jiaqi always make me feel like I have to buy them.”

In addition to Li Jiaqi and other traditional KOL live, store live is a new welcoming trend for merchants to get sales growth and brand reputation. On Singles’ Day 2023, 38 stores with live streaming have GMV exceeded 100 million, accounting for more than 60% of the total 100 million stores at Tmall; and 451 stores with live streaming have GMV exceeded ten million RMB.

Consumption is becoming a major driver of the macroeconomic recovery. From the perspective of e-commerce data, Singles’ Day has entered a stage of gentle growth. In the future, Singles’ Day is more likely to transform into an important scene for cultivating new products and new services.

Feature image: Mannings

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