Little romance likely for China retailers on Valentine’s Day

The coronavirus outbreak is set to rob retailers of all the romance on Valentine’s Day tomorrow according to analysts from OC&C Strategy Consulting. 

Pascal Martin and Veronica Wang, partners at OC&C, say the outbreak will lead to “markedly different behaviour” among consumers in Mainland China and Hong Kong tomorrow.  

“We anticipate a continuing surge in online grocery shopping, and a drop in traditional grocery, as has already been widely reported by Chinese e-commerce players and observers,” the pair said in an email to Inside Retail Asia. 

“However, this is contingent on whether merchants like Alibaba and JD will be able to fulfil the delivery orders effectively, which may be challenging given the sheer volume of demand and availability of staff during the crisis.”

Online retailers are delivery services are stretched in both markets, especially on the mainland where tens of thousands of retail stores and restaurants are closed either on local government orders or due to negligible demand as consumers stay at home to avoid contact with other people.

“After more than two weeks filled with fear and anxiety, consumers are also seeking unique experiences to energise themselves at this very moment, but they are also wary of going to public spaces,” said Martin and Wang. 


“Therefore, instead of spending the upcoming Valentine’s Day at conventional venues such as cinemas or upmarket restaurants, people are more inclined to seek safer alternatives such as home-cooked candlelight dinners, ordering gifts and flowers online and having them delivered to their home.”

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