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China's '618' retail extravaganza will be put to the test. COVID-affected buyers' desire to overspend

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English -  As e-commerce platforms prepare to publish takings from the mid-year "618" shopping extravagan...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English -  As e-commerce platforms prepare to publish takings from the mid-year "618" shopping extravaganza this weekend, China will get a glimpse of how the country's zero-COVID-19 policy and weakening economy have impacted buyers' desire to indulge.

With bargain-hunters holding off purchases in expectation of discounts spanning a range of brands, 618 is China's second-largest shopping event by sales after November 11's Singles Day.

According to Syntun data, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's Tmall, Inc, and Pinduoduo Inc sold a total of 578.4 billion yuan ($85.89 billion) worth of goods last year, up 26.5 percent from the previous year.

However, government efforts to battle recurring waves of COVID-19 have hampered the world's second-largest economy in the previous three months, with dozens of localities imposing lockdown measures of different severity, limiting expenditure, affecting livelihoods, and severely disrupting supply networks.

Many localities loosened restrictions in June and stated that they intended to boost spending to help the economy recover, using incentives like as vouchers, car buyer rebates, and digital yuan payments.

Recognizing that the pandemic has impacted brands, Alibaba and are implementing merchant assistance measures such as promises to speed up pre-sale deposit transfers to help merchants' liquidity.

They're also encouraging retailers to offer their biggest-ever discounts in the hopes of boosting sales, with offering 50 yuan off for every 299 yuan spent. A comparable offer can be found on Alibaba. These discounts are paid for by the vendors.

However, other companies and agencies told Reuters that they expected to discount less this year because they or their clients couldn't afford it.

Last month, Fang Jianhua, the founder and chairman of IDG Capital and Alibaba-backed clothing brand Inman Apparel, wrote an article on WeChat lamenting how retailers, particularly in Shanghai, were suffering from lost sales in the current environment and that he planned to "lie flat" for 618, a Chinese expression of inaction.

Rather than offering discounts, Fang intends to "focus on how to use our products and services to develop emotional ties with millions of clients," he stated without going into detail.

Nonetheless, shops ranging from pasta producer Barilla to shampoo brand Ryo are providing "stock up" bundles including what would be huge orders of their items at the event.

Many consumers in pandemic-affected areas such as Shanghai and Beijing rushed to stock up on food and everyday necessities even after mobility restrictions were lifted, fearing that the lockdown will occur again. created the 618 event in 2004 to commemorate its 10th anniversary.

($1 = 6.7344 Chinese yuan renminbi

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