Chinese binge-shopping not restricted to Singles Day

Chinese consumers don’t limit their binge shopping habits to the virtual world – there are still opportunities a day after Singles Day.

This morning, Alibaba Group reported a record US$14.3 billion in sales on yesterday’s Singles’ Day, a 60 per cent increase on last year, hitting a new sales record.

While this is a strong evidence of China’s fondness for online shopping, Chinese consumers don’t limit their binge shopping habits to the virtual world. In fact, Chinese consumers, especially those with strong spending power, are spending less money in neighboring cities such as Hong Kong and Macau and are instead flocking in herds to spend their money in mature markets, particularly Europe.

While the weak currency pan-regionally is a major reason for the shift in shopping trends, the Chinese’ inherent love of iconic European brands and a preference for the in-store luxury shopping experience is also a huge factor, according to a retail expert from London Business School.

Elizabetta Camilleri, who launched SalesGossip an online mobile service curating fashion and beauty promotions, from the London Business School Deloitte Incubator explains: “When it comes to shopping in the UK, Asians often have a predisposition for luxury European and British heritage brands such as Burberry, Mulberry and Barbour. Major reasons behind this popularity include the lower price and tax of branded items in the UK relative to Asia, in addition to the weakened currency.”

The in-store experience for Chinese consumers shopping abroad is also pivotal to their spending habits. “Chinese shoppers don’t travel all the way to Europe for street items,” Camilleri says. “They value the VIP luxury experience, such as personal shoppers and premium delivery services.”  

Nevertheless, Asian consumers are price-sensitive and savvy. They tend to reserve their shopping sprees for promotional periods.

“Discount shopping remains important to Asians when they shop at British department stores. This is why huge Asian crowds outside department stores are a frequent sight on the early hours of Boxing Day (December 26), one of the biggest sales days in the British calendar and a huge attraction for locals and foreigners alike.

“Unlike the majority of shoppers in UK who treat shopping as a regular hobby, Asian shoppers have greater incentives to buy if there is a giveaway.

“Mall-based shopping is one of the preferred means for Chinese consumers as they can access a lot of brands all in one place. Often, they will visit the UK on group tours and be taken to a convenient, large, premium shopping district, such as Westfield or Bicester Village.”

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