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2017 Chinese New Year Sales: Guangzhou

Over this year’s Spring Festival period, Guangzhou’s retail sector recorded sales of around RMB2.71 billion, representing double-digit growth compared to the same period last year. In the city’s major commercial districts, the wide array of retailing, entertainment, catering, sports, tourism and cultural facilities on offer was seen as apt justification of Guangzhou’s claim to be a true “shoppers’ paradise”.

Photo: Branching out: Red packet-festooned trees in the Zhujiang New Town district of Guangzhou. (Xinhua News Agency)
Branching out: Red packet-festooned trees in the Zhujiang New Town district of Guangzhou.
Photo: Branching out: Red packet-festooned trees in the Zhujiang New Town district of Guangzhou.(Xinhua News Agency)
Branching out: Red packet-festooned trees in the Zhujiang New Town district of Guangzhou.

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.

Throughout this year’s Spring Festival period, consumer spending in Guangzhou proved particularly vibrant, with a number of the highlights detailed below.

According to figures from the Guangzhou Municipal Commission of Commerce, over the golden week period 2017, seven Guangzhou department stores - including Grandbuy, Guangzhou Friendship, TeeMall and Mopark - recorded collective sales of around RMB440 million, an 8% increase on the 2016 figures for the same period. A similar upswing was evident in the sales achieved by many of the city’s electrical appliance retailers, including such market leading operators as Suning and Gome.

Many of the city’s commercial districts now offer a wide range of commercial activities, extending across retailing, entertainment, catering, sports, tourism and culture. Overall, the mix on offer was said to clearly justify Guangzhou’s claim to be a paradise for contemporary shoppers and representing a far cry from the days when many such areas were dismissed as antiquated business districts.

This year, looking to capitalise on their appeal, many of the city’s shopping centres adopted an array of innovative strategies, all designed to boost footfall and maximise consumer dwell time. To this end, the Taikoo Hui mall teamed up with Liuligongfang, the renowned Taiwanese contemporary glass studio, to stage the largest indoor glass art exhibition ever to be held in South China. For its part, the Guangzhou Friendship mall worked with Simon Chan, one of Hong Kong’s foremost floral design masters, to create a lavish 28-metre long Peach Blossom Lane.

Taking a more dramatic approach, the TeeMall was transformed into the Xiaozaizi Theatre for the debut of I, the King, Have a Dream, a play that won huge plaudits online. A number of the city’s other shopping malls, including Happy Valley Guangzhou and the CapitaMall, also organised their own events, such as a Spring Festival carnival and a local bazaar. Seeking divine inspiration, by contrast, Parc Central, OneLinkWalk and Rock Square enlisted the services of a God of Wealth to dole out New Year red packets.

As ever, this year’s Spring Festival also proved a prime opportunity for shopping malls to launch their own promotional activities and to offer tempting discounts. Taking this to heart, the Grandview Mall staged a miniature version of the Guangzhou Temple Fair, including such popular attractions as Year of the Rooster lanterns, hen and chicken pairs and a flash sale of “rooster olives” (olives in Guangzhou are traditionally sold by a vendor dressed as a rooster who woos customers by playing a trumpet).

From the very beginning of the Chinese New Year period, there was a huge surge in visitor numbers, with more than 150,000 attending on the first day alone, a 20% rise over last year. One attraction - Ocean World - drew an average of almost 10,000 visitors a day, with 1,000 guests who were born in a Rooster Year able to enjoy cut-price entry. The Friendship Group, one of the city’s traditional department stores, staged a series of different promotional events to coincide with a number of New Year landmarks, including the Lantern Festival and Valentine’s Day. Customers also found it hard to resist the double bonus points, mega discounts and special prizes on offer to all those who could solve a series of lantern riddles.

According to the Guangzhou Municipal Commission of Commerce, sales of gold merchandise - such as gold ornaments in the shape of a Rooster zodiac sign and Ruyi - were up 10% year-on-year in the Tianhe Road commercial district. Meanwhile, sales of home appliances and electronic goods fared better still, with sales said to be up by 15%. Similarly, a year-on-year growth in sales volumes was also registered in many of the city’s other commercial districts, including Beijing Road, Baiyun New Town, Zhujiang New Town, Dongshan, East Ring Road, Jiangnan West, White Swan Pond, Dashadi and Shangxiajiu.

Overall, sales of New Year goods peaked during the Spring Festival holiday, with a high level of demand recorded for a variety of such items across the whole of Guangdong. One change this year, though, was a surge in popularity for the online-to-offline (O2O) sales model. According to New Year Shopping Festival statistics compiled by Alibaba, this year Guangdong was ranked as the leading province in terms of the number of orders placed for New Year goods. Adding weight to this, the head of the Grandbuy Supermarket said moderately priced mid- to high-end preserved fruits, biscuits, gift boxes of cured meat and dried food were particularly popular during the holiday season, with sales up by almost 10%.

During previous Spring Festival holidays, logistics constraints prevented many e-commerce operators from providing their normal service. This year, however, several digital platforms linked-up with conventional retailers to offer a round-the-clock service over the holidays. Some high street retailers even worked more closely still with e-merchants and logistics companies in order to offer a far more integrated online and offline service.

According to the head of CR Vanguard’s digital team, well before the Spring Festival they had stocked up with more than RMB3 billion’s worth of goods. The supermarket chain also introduced a Year of the Rooster special promotion entitling registered members to receive cash coupons for any purchases totalling over a designated amount, with a 50% discount offered for three days and nights. Other than embracing such traditional marketing strategies, the company also moved into the digital age by offering prizes to any in-store customers who joined its online club. It also worked with the S.F. Express courier firm to ensure the smooth delivery of online orders. The company believed that only by adopting these innovative business formats was it able to meet the changing expectations of many of its customers.

Taking a similarly progressive approach was Guangdong AEON, which this year teamed up with the delivery company JD Daojia to sell traditional New Year’s goods on an O2O basis. This allowed the company to offer doorstep deliveries regardless of whether the goods were bought online at daojia.jd.com or in-store at AEON. Several online vendors, including JD.com, Tmall, Suning.com and Yiguo, the fresh produce platform, all stayed open over the Spring Festival period this year. Suning and JD.com also offered a 24-hour delivery service in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

In sharp contrast to their disappointing 2016 Spring Festival sales performance, this year many Guangzhou businesses proved hugely successful in their bid to develop strategies that matched the new market requirements. Furthermore, many conventional retailers have now successfully begun to develop new business formats in response to the growing threat from e-tailers. Shoppers, too, have shown every sign of responding to the new vigour demonstrated by many of the city’s retailers.

Guangzhou Office

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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