Business / Industries

Online retailers expect a quiet Christmas

By Chen Limin (China Daily) Updated: 2012-12-21 13:45

While Christmas is an opportunity for businesses to cash in, online shopping sales this year may not be as strong as previous online promotions because consumers have been bombarded by various discount campaigns throughout the year, said analysts and industry players.

This year has seen arguably the biggest price wars and promotions among e-commerce players amid cutthroat competition.

The peak came with the Nov 11 promotion initiated by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, whose two online shopping arms registered total sales of 19.1 billion yuan ($3 billion) during the one-day sale.

Online vendors who open their stores on Taobao and Tmall, the shopping websites owned by Alibaba, do not expect Christmas to be a booming period for sales.

"I'm worried that people's desire for shopping may cool after the big promotions on Nov 11 and Dec 12," said Liu Yanli, who heads the e-commerce arm of Beijing Toread Camping Equipment Co Ltd, a major camping clothes maker in China.

During the Nov 11 promotion, Toread's online store on Tmall hit sales of 23 million yuan, almost half of the company's online sales this year.

She said the company will also provide discounts over Christmas, but will not set a sales goal as it did during the Nov 11 promotion. The Christmas promotion will be less of a revenue driver, she said.

"Consumers may be a bit tired of various promotions this year, especially after the Nov 11 campaign that may have exhausted their desire to shop to some extent," said Mo Daiqing, an e-commerce analyst with research company China e-Business Research Center.

During the Nov 11 and Dec 12 promotions, Alibaba's online vendors and major e-commerce websites offered low prices to attract customers, making those days a major retail event for Chinese online shoppers.

The 19.1 billion yuan sales on Alibaba on Nov 11, was more than 50 percent higher than the total online sales in the United States on "Cyber Monday" on Nov 26, the day following Thanksgiving weekend.

Sun Yirong, a Web editor in Guangdong province, said she has bought only a sweater in recent days, but during the Nov 11 and Dec 12 promotions, she bought 11 items of clothing.

"What I've bought is more than enough for me," she said.

On Taobao and Tmall, however, Christmas-related products are popular among consumers.

According to an index provided by Alibaba that reflects the volume and number of transactions made on Taobao and Tmall, Christmas-related goods have seen a more than 700 percent increase in the past 30 days, compared with the past month, and about a 20 percent increase from the same period last year.


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