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2018 Chinese New Year Sales (4): Wuhan

Retail destinations across Wuhan implemented a wide variety of promotional tactics in the run-up to this year’s Spring Festival, including focusing on holiday must-haves, offering round-the-clock hospitality and showing all the latest big-screen blockbusters…

Photo:Glowing tribute: Yuanboyuan Garden Park’s lantern corridor.
Glowing tribute: Yuanboyuan Garden Park’s lantern corridor.
Photo:Glowing tribute: Yuanboyuan Garden Park’s lantern corridor.
Glowing tribute: Yuanboyuan Garden Park’s lantern corridor.

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.

Over the 2018 Spring Festival period, Wuhan’s retailers relied on a variety of different sales tactics in order to woo consumers, with a number of the highlights listed below:

In the case of the high-end Wuhan International Plaza Shopping Center, its favoured approach was to offer a range of New Year souvenirs to shoppers in the run-up to the Spring Festival period. Hoping to capitalise on the local population’s love of travel, it also focused on fashionable must-have tourism items in the hope of both driving sales and boosting the so-called “holiday economy”.

By contrast, the Wuhan International Plaza Shopping Center relied on its catering and entertainment facilities – which all stayed open throughout the holiday period – as a way of driving footfall. It also took to WeChat to promote the round-the-clock service provided by its restaurants, while additionally using the platform to highlight individual eateries and particular dishes.

In terms of its recreational facilities, its video game centre, ice-skating rink and cinema were all kept busy throughout the holiday period. Particularly successful was the screening of several New Year blockbusters, including Detective Chinatown 2, Monster Hunt and Operation Red Sea, all of which attracted high numbers of Wuhan moviegoers, as well as sizable contingents from neighbouring cities.

In terms of promotion, many of the plaza’s retail operations gave out red envelopes with all purchases, typically containing gift offers and discounts on credit card use. The implementation of an O2O service also played a key role in driving sales to a record high.

For the mid-high-end Livat Wuhan Centre, a retail destination that bills itself as a “super meeting place”, it relied on the appeal of IKEA, its anchor tenant, as the primary means of attracting consumers to its shopping, catering and leisure facilities. For its part, the Dutch ready-to-assemble furniture supplier offered 100 items at special New Year sales prices, with a 50% discount applicable when buying two of the same item and a 15% discount on purchases of two designated toys or more.

In addition, the Centre also hosted a Chinese New Year Temple Fair, allowing visitors to enjoy a wide range of delicious snacks while they made their purchases.

The mid-market Wushang Group’s supermarket, meanwhile, looked to emphasise its “quality life” proposition as a means of attracting aspirational consumers, while also offering shoppers the chance to sample goods / products for themselves prior to purchasing or ordering. It also actively promoted the notion of shopping globally for New Year goods via overseas e-commerce sites. To this end, in the run-up to the festive period, it showcased a wide range of high-quality giftboxes containing a variety of imported items, including premium quality candies, biscuits, nuts, milk, edible oils and cereals, all of which consumers could subsequently order online from the comfort of their own homes.

It also launched a Belt and Road Initiative-themed festival that highlighted a wide selection of East European goods, including sunflower seed oil, whole-fat milk and Kpokaht candy from Russia, with the latter proving the clear favourite among Wuhan consumers. Similarly successful was its range of discounted giftboxes, all containing imported skin care products, toiletries and other daily use items. Maintaining its belief in the importance of allowing consumers to ‘try before they buy’, the Centre also employed a chef to demonstrate the various ways to prepare the range of seafood on offer, including Boston lobster, king crab, Dungeness crab, abalone and scallops.

With its focus on the to mid- to low-end demographic, the Wuhan Central Department Store had a lower average per customer spend than many of its more upmarket competitors. Overall, though, it reported that sales held steady for the main part, except for something of a surge in demand for gold items.

Set in a busy pedestrianised shopping area, the store prides itself on being more fashionable than many of the city’s other retail outlets, with much of its appeal down to its stock of good quality items unavailable elsewhere. Over the Chinese New Year period it looked to capitalise on the uniqueness of its range by offering discounts of up to 70% on its winter clothing collections.

Wuhan Office

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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