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2018 Chinese New Year Sales (5): Dalian

A wide variety of sales promotion tactics were employed by Dalian’s leading retailers and catering establishments in the run-up to the 2018 Chinese New Year period. With the city’s 10 leading shopping destinations – including the Dalian Department Store, New Mart, Mykal, Carrefour and the Friendship Shopping Centre – taking more than RMB105 million over the holiday period (a 3.43% year-on-year rise), these strategies clearly proved effective.

Photo: A pre-Spring Festival total eclipse of moon over Dalian signals the start of holiday period.
A pre-Spring Festival total eclipse of the moon over Dalian signals the start of the holiday period.
Photo: A pre-Spring Festival total eclipse of moon over Dalian signals the start of holiday period.
A pre-Spring Festival total eclipse of the moon over Dalian signals the start of the holiday period.

Overall, figures from the Ministry of Commerce showed that from New Year’s Eve to the sixth day of the Chinese New Year (15-21 February) this year, the total takings of retail and catering enterprises across the mainland exceeded RMB926 billion, up 10.2% in comparison to the 2017 Spring Festival golden week period. The most in-demand items tended to be traditional New Year goods, organic foodstuffs, gold and silver ornaments, smart home appliances and new digital products. In terms of emerging trends, a notably higher percentage of New Year items and takeaway meals were ordered online, while mobile payments and customised travel bookings also became more commonplace.

In order to fully assess changing Spring Festival buying patterns, new retail trends and regional purchasing idiosyncrasies, the HKTDC’s mainland offices monitored the sales performance, promotional strategies and digital engagement of the leading retailers within their geographical remit. This has resulted in a unique snapshot of seasonal consumer / retailer behaviour in seven key markets across China – Chongqing, Dalian, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Wuhan.

Overall, all of Dalian’s retail outlets enjoyed increased footfall over the 2018 Spring Festival period. It was the services sector, however, that saw the highest level of increased spend, with takings notably up for many of the city’s catering businesses, entertainment providers, fitness centres and cultural venues. In terms of retail purchases, it was high-end items – such as watches, gold and jewellery – that attracted the highest level of increased spending.

With Valentine’s Day 2018 falling just before Chinese New Year’s Eve, many businesses opted to run promotional activities linked to both occasions as a means of maximising their appeal to consumers. Many of the major brands also offered substantial end-of-season discounts on certain items, while simultaneously showcasing their incoming spring / summer collections.

In terms of average transaction values, receipts were up across the clothing, accessories and cosmetics sectors, while toy sales also held up well, with many customers buying them as gifts for friends or relatives. Inevitably, the higher incidence of social occasions throughout the New Year period also boosted the turnover of many of the city’s catering and recreational businesses.  

The table below contains a brief summary of the sales performance and promotional strategies of three of Dalian’s leading retailers:

Venue Parkland Mall Dalian Department Store  Kaisa Plaza
CharacteristicsHealth supplements, fashion, smart electrical appliances, technology products and household goods were among the most in-demand items over the 2018 Chinese New Year period.

Among the factors clearly having an impact on consumer purchasing decisions were variety, quality and branding.
Clothing, shoes, home textiles and household goods were among the most frequently purchased items in the run-up to Chinese New Year.

The screening of popular movies in the complex’s cinema had a positive knock-on effect for many of the on-site restaurants and retail outlets.

The end-of-year sales held by several outlets also proved highly effective.
Sales of clothing, accessories and cosmetics showed a year-on-year increase of 11.2% when compared to February 2017, while average transaction value rose to RMB236.8.

In the case of toys and electronic products, there was a year-on-year sales increase of 9.7%.

In the case of the catering outlets, long queues were in evidence over the lunch and dinner periods, while many of the recreational businesses enjoyed afternoon sales peaks.
Spring Festival sales promotionThe mall offered enhanced loyalty point rewards on sales of winter clothing, while also heavily promoting incoming spring / summer collections.

Consumers spending more than RMB1,000 on Valentine’s Day items were rewarded with a free box of chocolates.
As Valentine’s Day came just before Chinese New Year, a large wedding stage was set up where couples could pose for free pictures. They could later access the images via the store’s WeChat public account and ask for free printouts.A number of festive items were offered at time-limited discounts, while prices were also cut across a variety of clothing, accessories, cosmetics and home furnishing brands.

Many of the plaza’s restaurants also offered discounts on New Year dishes for a limited period.
Online spending / shopping / meal orderingThe mall’s online shopping platform launched a variety of New Year gift boxes and introduced several premium imported products.

Restaurants offered free delivery of prepared and semi-prepared New Year’s Eve meals as a way of attracting increased business.

While people once brought New Year goods with them on their home leave, now they do their shopping online and the goods often arrive before they get home.
The store worked hard to create a welcoming Chinese New Year as a means of competing against the comparatively impersonal e-commerce platforms.

Online sales were adversely affected a week or two prior to Chinese New Year by logistics problems. As a result, consumers seemed more inclined to buy from physical stores as there would be no concerns over delayed deliveries.
The number of people redeeming loyalty points for gift coupons online showed a marked increase, with the redemption rate up 7.9% year-on-year.

Online meal ordering surged over the first five days of the Chinese New Year period. Many restaurants were virtually fully booked throughout this time, particularly those serving northeastern cuisine.
Sales promotion strategy and successful experiencesFor the first time this year, the mall maintained its normal opening hours throughout the Spring Festival holiday period. With the subsequently heavy footfall, sales revenue increased notably.Calligraphers were invited to the store to write New Year lucky sayings. There was also a special section allocated to New Year goods, where shoppers could enjoy Chinese New Year traditions and vendors could sell directly to consumers with an interest in their goods. This also saw vendors in the food, clothing and household item sectors working together to offer integrated packages.

A number of Chinese New Year themed events were also held in order to drive consumer engagement and encourage return visits. This is based on the belief that a convivial New Year atmosphere always translates into increased consumer spending.
As Valentine’s Day fell in the same week as Chinese New Year, interactive photography equipment was installed, allowing couples to pose for pictures together. Event marketing was also initiated as a means of maximising awareness.

E-catalogues were distributed online and offline, with integrated information provided about the different discounts on offer from a variety of vendors.

A special festive dining initiative was launched as a means of promoting the appeal of fish as a New Year dish, with a number of time-limited discounts also on offer.

Targetted marketing, via WeChat Moments, Weibo and a number of proprietary apps, was also employed.

Dalian Office

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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