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Chinese New Year paves the way for inter-city retail boom

By He Wei in Shanghai | | Updated: 2021-02-19 20:34
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A man searches among piles of parcels in Beijing, on Feb 10, 2021. [Photo/IC]

A surge in cross-city sales and a spike in orders for local specialties, imported goods, healthy lifestyle items and home-based entertainment products characterized this year's Spring Festival online shopping trend as Chinese consumers stayed put during the holiday to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As many people did not travel to their hometowns for holidays, sales generated from inter-city orders were double that of last year, according to statistics from JJDJ, a leading on-demand delivery and retail platform.

This trend was most evident in first-tier cities such as Shenzhen and Guangzhou in South China's Guangdong province.

According to Cainiao Smart Logistics Network, a consortium of over 10 leading Chinese delivery firms, the average number of parcels sent from smaller counties to bigger cities increased 20 percent compared to 2019.

This trend is consistent with the broader consumption spree seen during the festive season. The Ministry of Commerce announced on Wednesday that the total revenue of key companies in the retail and catering sectors rose 28.7 percent year-on-year during the weeklong holiday from Feb 11 to 17, reaching around 821 billion yuan ($127.1 billion).

The travel restrictions caused by the pandemic have also amplified the demand for imported goods. E-commerce site Tmall, for example, saw the gross merchandise volume of imported wine spike tenfold year-on-year from Feb 4 to 15, whereas sales of rum and pasta increased 8.8 times and 2.4 times respectively on JDDJ during the festival period.

In addition, some 190 tonnes of dragon fruit were shipped to China from Vietnam's northern province of Lao Cai on the first day of the Lunar New Year, the Vietnam News Agency reported on Feb 12. The Lao Cai Border Gate Customs Sub-Department said that the shipment, the first exports to China in the Lunar New Year, was worth around $121,512.

Air New Zealand also operated three return services to Guangzhou in early February to support the export and import of premium goods over the Chinese New Year period.

From the week starting on Feb 8, the airline has been operating two multi-stop services a week, using its Boeing 787-9 fleet to pick up goods in Auckland and Christchurch before flying them Guangzhou, according to the airline's Feb 4 press release.

Flights to Guangzhou will carry local premium export goods including seafood and milk powder, and flights to New Zealand would carry personal protective equipment, electronics and other general cargo, the airline said.

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