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China ushers in new consumption scenarios ahead of Spring Festival

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-01-31 10:40
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People select Chinese Lunar New Year decorations at a market in Duyun city, Southwest China's Guizhou province, Jan 29, 2024. The Chinese Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, falls on Feb 10 this year. [Photo/Xinhua]

BEIJING -- Fresh steam is being added to China's Spring Festival consumption drive as the world's second-largest economy taps its supersized market and creates new scenarios and products for its vast number of consumers.

With the Year of the Dragon approaching, China, with an economy that achieved GDP growth of 5.2 percent in 2023, is unleashing more of its consumption potential by facilitating both online and offline shopping activities, thereby injecting strong impetus into global economic recovery.

Online shopping spree 

The 2024 national online Spring Festival shopping season kicked off on Jan 18, said commerce ministry spokesperson He Yadong at a recent press conference. The shopping season will last for the whole Spring Festival holiday which runs until Feb 17.

As the first major online activity to boost the country's efforts in promoting consumption this year, this shopping season will integrate online promotion activities from various localities, e-commerce platforms and shops, and cater to consumer activities that are related to the Year of the Dragon.

According to data from Vipshop, China's major online discount retailer, the sales volume of China-chic clothing featuring the Year of the Dragon theme had increased by 120 percent in the first week after the start of the shopping season compared with the week which preceded it, while the sales volume of sports sweaters with a Year of the Dragon theme surged more than three-fold month-on-month.

In addition, domestic brands experienced rapid growth, with the sales volume of down coat brand SNOWFLYING surging 189 percent year-on-year.

New consumption forms will emerge in the shopping season, He said.

Focusing on digital consumption, locations including Beijing are placing emphasis on debut shows for 3C products, while Shanghai is targeting promotional activities with significant focus on health-related consumption.

Highlighting the new charm of domestic trendy goods, East China's Zhejiang province is opting for activities such as an "intangible cultural heritage Lunar New Year's shopping festival," according to the spokesperson.

Consumption was a significant growth driver in China last year. Final consumption contributed 82.5 percent to the country's GDP growth in 2023.

Offline experiences

On Jan 12, US retail giant Costco opened its first store in southern China.

The Shenzhen branch opened just under a month before the Chinese Lunar New Year, for which Costco had made full preparations in advance, providing festival goods for locals, including cured food and Spring Festival couplets. In addition, the Year of the Dragon theme is prominent in the store.

"Nearly 5,000 people poured into the store within an hour, and there were three or four thousand people lined up outside!" said Nie Xiwen, a government staff member in Shenzhen's Longhua district, who was at the scene when the store opened earlier this month.

Improved logistics quality and efficiency in China have also combined to make it easier for people to purchase goods.

On a train departing from the city of Qiqihar in Northeast China, the likes of fresh fruits, tea sets and other local specialty products were made available to passengers as part of a traditional Spring Festival fair.

Transport initiatives like "cherry express" and "kiwi fruit flights" have enabled fresh fruits to arrive quickly in China's huge market, leading to a sharp increase in sales of such goods of foreign origin.

In addition to the consumption of goods, service consumption is another important option for Chinese consumers. For example, Lunar New Year's Eve dinner has gained much popularity, and many restaurants are already fully booked.

Data from e-commerce platform Meituan showed that as of Jan 21, New Year's Eve reservations at restaurants had increased more than three-fold compared with 2023, while some major restaurants in first-tier cities will be open for dinner for the full 24 hours on New Year's Eve.

Zhu Danpeng, a food industry analyst, said the high level of reservations for Lunar New Year's Eve dinner underlined the further recovery of consumer confidence and their improved ability to spend.

The service sector saw its value-added output rise 5.8 percent year-on-year, accounting for 54.6 percent of China's GDP in 2023, official data revealed.

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