Chinese brands outnumber foreign names among Singles’ Day bestsellers

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese consumers grabbed their wallets tight on this year’s Singles’ Day and continued to search for relatively economical home brands on expensive labels, as strict COVID-19 restrictions and economic uncertainty weighed on the shopping splendor.

From the evening of Oct. 31 through Thursday, more than 2,000 items had generated sales of over 10 million yuan ($1.4 million) each on the Tmall market, more than half of which were from Chinese brands, according to data from the platform owned by e-commerce group Alibaba. Group Holdings Limited

Alibaba said Singles’ Day sales were in line with last year, when the value of total merchandise rose 8.5%, the lowest level since the company launched the shopping event in 2009. For the first time, Alibaba has not released sales data this year.

The shopping festival, which has expanded from a one-day online event to an extended frenzy, is seen as a barometer of consumer sentiment in the world’s second largest economy.

This year’s bestseller list included Chinese home appliance makers Haier and Midea and sportswear brand Anta, as well as global names like Apple, L’Oreal and Nike.

Devices outperformed the other categories, while clothing remained the biggest drawback, according to data from research firm YipitData in the pre-event period where shoppers can make deposits on items.

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Despite the emergence of new domestic brands in the past few years, foreign brands still have huge reputation advantages in sectors where product quality or safety are the most important considerations, said Jacob Cook, CEO of e-commerce consultancy WPIC Marketing + Technologies .

Alibaba competitor JD.com said that in the 28 hours of 8 p.m. on October 31, Chinese brands accounted for 80% of sales of the top 20 brands.

This does not reflect local dominance of the entire market, Cook said, although JD.com is particularly strong in high-value consumer electronics such as computers and smartphones, where Chinese manufacturers have long had influence in the domestic market.

Repeated COVID lockdowns in cities across China have prompted consumers to spend on improving the quality of life at home.

JD.com said Chinese consumers are increasingly willing to pay for devices with specific functionality. Sales of TVs with gaming functionality jumped more than 180% in the single-day 28-hour period cited by JD.com from the previous year, while high-end floor washers were up 400%.

Sales of TCL TVs, Dyson hair dryers and Midea refrigerators have doubled, according to JD.com.

People also wanted to entertain themselves: RTX gaming PC sales were up 75%, Microsoft Xbox sales were more than tripled, and XR glasses were up 530% on JD.com.

Camping-related sales were strong as the outdoor trend continued, with sales of portable power stations up 10-fold on JD.com.

(dollar = 7.1066 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Sophie Yu, Brenda Goh; Editing by William Mallard)