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2017 Chinese New Year Sales: Beijing

During the 2017 Spring Festival holiday period, total retail sales in Beijing amounted to RMB4.68 billion. The sales figures of 120 Beijing-based businesses in the retail and services sectors - as monitored by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Commerce (BMCC) - increased by 9.8% year-on-year, representing the highest rate of sales growth for five years.

Photo: Spring Festival sales fever breaks out in Beijing’s Wangfujing shopping street.
Spring Festival sales fever breaks out in Beijing’s Wangfujing shopping street.
Photo: Spring Festival sales fever breaks out in Beijing’s Wangfujing shopping street.
Spring Festival sales fever breaks out in Beijing’s Wangfujing shopping street.

Overall, figures from the Ministry of Commerce showed that, from New Year's Eve to the sixth day of the Chinese New Year (27 January-2 February 2017), the total takings of retail and catering enterprises across the mainland exceeded RMB840 billion, up 11.4% over the same period last year. Traditional New Year goods, eco-friendly food, seasonal clothing, gold and silver ornaments, smart energy-saving home appliances and several new digital products were among the best-selling items for 2017.

As part of the survey, staff at the HKTDC's mainland offices - Beijing, Dalian, Qingdao, Xi’an, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Wuhan, Chongqing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Fuzhou and Shenzhen - selected a number of representative local shopping centres and monitored their performance before, during and after the Chinese New Year sales period in order to ascertain just how their respective local consumer markets fared this year.

Overall, sales in Beijing over the 2017 Spring Festival period year highlighted a number of diverse trends and shifts in consumer behaviour. Spurred on by the festive atmosphere, sales were buoyant across the city, with many outlets well-prepared for this annual surge in demand.

1. Department Stores

Department store sales revived notably this year. Indeed, this was the first year since 2014 that the 30 department stores monitored by the BMCC reported clear sales growth during the Spring Festival period. In fact, Yansha Youyi Shopping City, the Wangfujing Department Store, the Yansha Outlets and the Capital Outlets all reported a sales upturn of 10% or more. Apart from shopping for festive goods, consumers seemed increasingly inclined to spend on travel, cultural performances and sports and fitness training over the Spring Festival period. As a consequence, parks, ice rinks, ski resorts and cinemas throughout the city remained busy during the holiday period.

2. Local Flavours and Distinctive Characteristics

Demand was particularly strong for traditional Beijing-style festive goods. This saw such classic Beijing brands as Daoxiangcun and Quanjude prove popular with both local residents and visitors to the city. Daoxiangcun’s classic Chinese pastry gift box, for instance, was a popular choice among those planning New Year visits to friends and family, with the product singled out for both its quality and its cultural significance. Another popular choice was Quanjude’s five-spice roast duck gift box, which was available from a number of High Street retailers and could also be ordered online.

Among the other specialty products to find favour this year was the range of teas showcased at the Sixth Spring Festival Tea Cultural Fair, an event organised by Wuyutai, a popular Beijing tea shop. Among the most in-demand items here were Jasmine tea and Pu’er tea cakes. Making a memorable debut at other Beijing outlets this year was a gelatin Taoshan fusion cake, jointly created by Daoxiangcun and Chengshantang, one of Shandong’s most well-known gelatin specialists.

This year, several local delicacies, as well as products from further afield, were available at a series of festivals and bazaars held at supermarkets, shopping centres and exhibition halls across the city. Among the most popular items on offer were Hebei handmade sausages, Northeast chum salmon, Dezhou braised chicken, Nanjing salted duck, Guizhou fish in sour soup and Gannan navel oranges.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the city’s supermarkets also rose to the occasion, stocking up extensively and launching a number of festive promotions. The Wumart Supermarket, for instance, introduced a New Year’s Eve Dinner Drive, which offered discounts of up to 50% on festive gift boxes. The Chaoshifa Supermarket, meanwhile, rolled out a Happy New Year Family Reunion promotion, offering WeChat users free gifts with any purchase above a designated amount, as well as the chance to win family gift coupons. As a result of such initiatives, the collective sales of Wumart, 7-Eleven, Lotte Mart and Friend grew by 10% over the Spring Festival period.

As is traditional, there was also a surge in demand for gold and silver festive ornaments. Among the most popular items here were small ornaments featuring a rooster motif and so-called lucky coins. As part of its Lucky Year of the Rooster promotion, shoppers at the Caishikou Department Store were given free gifts and entered in lucky draws if they were both reward card holders and had spent above a certain limit. Over at the Guohua Shopping Mall, its New Year promotion saw consumers entitled to a 50% discount on workmanship fees as part of a trade-in scheme, while five times the standard level of reward points was also available for all purchases. Overall, the Caishikou Department Store’s retail sales enjoyed an 8% increase during the Chinese New Year period.

3. Online Shopping

This year, online sales were led by JD.com, one of the mainland’s most successful online portals. The e-commerce site ran a number of special promotions, including Round-the-clock Family Fun and Ongoing Flow of Goods and Joy (except for New Year’s Eve). As well as guaranteeing deliveries throughout most of the holiday period, these promotions offered discounts on a variety of goods, including fresh produce, snacks, clothing and small appliances.

In the case of suning.com, its Super New Year Goods Festival saw the online electrical appliance retailer give out red packets to purchasers, as well as offering special deals on a number of imported items. Gome.com.cn, a fellow online retailer, meanwhile, opted for a Stock Up for New Year promotion offering discounts of up to 50% for pre-orders of bedding, buy-two-get-10%-off incentives for specific brands, as well as discount offers on all purchases of small electrical appliances above a specified value, and a 50% discount on repeat purchases.

Significantly, a substantial number of conventional retailers also engaged in online sales this year. This saw a number of traditional Beijing brands, including Quanjude, Bianyifang, Donglaishun, Tianfuhao, Daoxiangcun and Neiliansheng, available via third party online sales platforms.

4. The Service Economy

As well as the traditional surge in demand for products, the most recent Spring Festival period saw consumers increasingly willing to spend on services, particularly those related to the leisure and entertainment sectors. This saw spending on travel, cultural performances and sports and fitness programmes rise notably over the holiday period. Parks throughout the city, as well as ice rinks and outlying ski resorts, were all busy, as were playground facilities and cinemas.

5. Classic Brands and Mass Market Dining

This year, many well-established, high quality catering businesses took to offering traditional and convenient New Year’s Eve dinner boxes, as well as a variety of Spring Festival takeout dishes. Among the most in-demand dishes were Tongchunyuan’s pan-fried sea bass and braised pork with preserved vegetables, Makai Restaurant’s pan-fried mandarin fish and sautéed shrimps, Kaorouj’s New Year’s Eve grilled lamb and braised beef shank dinner boxes, Huguo Temple Snacks’ spring rolls, Liuquanju’s tofu puffs and grilled buns, as well as cooked beef and lamb dishes from both Huatian Kaorouji and Kaorouwan.

Typically, these New Year’s Eve dinner boxes cost between RMB200 and RMB500, price points that were seen as generally affordable and good value for money. Invariably, sales of takeout meal boxes surge over the Spring Festival period, with Tongheju’s New Year’s Eve takeout dinner sets, for instance, recording a one-day year-on-year sales growth of close to 50%.

Sharing the same Putonghua pronunciation as the word “lucky”, chicken was a popular ingredient in many New Year menus. As well as ensuring an abundant supply of its famous Kung Pao chicken dish, the Emei Restaurant also introduced a new roast rooster dish. Kaorouji, meanwhile, debuted Sun Rises at Cockcrow, a new dish marking the arrival of the Year of the Rooster. Among the other chicken dishes that proved popular with diners were the Makai Restaurant’s Dong’an chicken, Tongchunyuan’s salted chicken, Tongheju’s poached chicken, the Casserole Pot Restaurant’s fortune chicken with vegetables, Old Xi’an Restaurant’s crispy chicken and can-stewed chicken from the Dadi Western Restaurant.

The online platforms of a number of the city’s restaurants, including Tongheju, Tongchunyuan and the Huifeng Dumpling Restaurant were open for business as usual throughout the Spring Festival Period. In co-operation with several third-party operators, these restaurants delivered semi-prepared meal sets and New Year family meal sets to eat-at-home diners across the city. To this end, Guo’an Community, worked with Quanjude, Fengzeyuan, Do It True and Western Mahua to promote their takeout business.

The convenient booking services and special discounts offered by some restaurants via a number of consumer review sites, most notably Dianping, and several other online sales channels, were, by and large, well received by consumers. Xiabu Xiabu, Ziguangyuan, Gongdefu and the Qingfeng Steamed Dumpling Shop were all among the catering businesses monitored by the BMCC, with the four posting a collective sales growth in excess of 10% across the 2017 Spring Festival period.

Beijing Office

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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