Spring Festival consumption enters a new normal

(People's Daily Online) 09:03, February 08, 2024

Photo shows visitors on the Ancient Cultural Street in north China's Tianjin Municipality. (People's Daily Online/Li Dan)

The Chinese Lunar New Year, or the Spring Festival, holds a natural and heartfelt appeal for every Chinese. It encompasses shared emotions, memories, and cultural traditions, reflecting people's perceptions of societal progress and their living standards.

Over the past more than four decades, Chinese people's shopping lists for the Spring Festival have undergone changes, serving as a microcosm of consumption upgrading. The shopping lists of people of different age groups for Spring Festival 2024 reveal that consumption upgrading is still ongoing.

When celebrating the Spring Festival, one of the most important things to do is indulge in delicious food.

According to a report on New Year shopping trends released by Alibaba Group's e-commerce platform Taobao, there has been a notable surge in the sales of fish, shrimp, and meat on Taobao since December 2023. Traditional bulk products that were previously only available offline have seen a significant surge in sales.

A representative of the Wumart supermarket chain in Beijing said that while their primary business revolves around offline product sales, the demand for online purchases has been steadily rising.

The post-90s generation is becoming the major force in New Year's Eve dinner purchases, with a growing preference for pre-made dishes. Online platforms have seen a significant increase in sales of pre-made dishes, with data consistently showing a minimum 20 percent rise compared to previous years.

Advances in technology and the growth of e-commerce have made it possible to purchase New Year goods from anywhere in the country or even globally. The establishment of a unified national market has also been instrumental in this process.

When it comes to New Year goods, Gen Zers show a preference for cross-regional consumption.

A mother and her daughter are attracted to colorful Moth orchids at a flower market in Xiamen city, southeast China's Fujian province. (People's Daily Online/Chen Bo)

The New Year shopping festival launched by Alibaba Group's online marketplace Tmall featured the debut of sturgeon from Jiamusi city and fathead fish from Chagan Lake, located in northeast China. These products garnered impressive sales due to their freshness.

Jiang Zhao, an assistant researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation of the Ministry of Commerce, said that the development of e-commerce and the acceleration of a unified national market have led to higher levels and better quality of New Year goods consumption.

E-commerce facilitates cross-regional operations and provides consumers with unified and convenient after-sales services, eliminating barriers to returning or exchanging goods from different regions. As a result, online New Year shopping has become increasingly popular among consumers.

The rapid growth of e-commerce and the increasing availability of consumer goods have also led to a significant increase in New Year consumption in rural areas.

Consumption in third-tier and lower-tier cities during the Spring Festival period in 2023 increased by almost 20 percent compared to the same period in the previous year, surpassing that of first and second-tier cities, according to a report by Alipay.

The creation of a unified national market has had a profound impact on the consumption of New Year goods in both urban and rural areas. It has also eliminated geographical limitations on the availability of local New Year goods.

Traditionally, buying flowers during the Spring Festival was a custom mainly practiced in southern China. However, the popularity of the market for Lunar New Year flowers has now expanded to the northern regions as well.

According to reports, daffodils have become a popular choice among Lunar New Year flowers. One daffodil cooperative in Shanghai had already achieved sales exceeding 1 million yuan ($139,034) by mid-January 2024. The person in charge anticipates that the total sales for the entire Lunar New Year flower season will reach 5 million yuan.

Today, tourism consumption has become an essential aspect of New Year goods consumption. Celebrating the Spring Festival in different locations, including overseas, has become increasingly popular among young consumers.

According to a Spring Festival travel trend forecast report by LY.com, this year's Spring Festival tourism market will be exceptionally active. As of Jan. 10, the search volume for air tickets departing between Feb. 8 and 17 had nearly doubled compared to the previous year. International flight searches had increased by almost seven times, surpassing the levels of the same period in 2019.

(Web editor: Xian Jiangnan, Hongyu)


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