Singles Day, 11.11, has been the biggest ecommerce festival in China since 2009 (similar to Black Friday in the US) and it is a key indicator in the industry. However, 2022 has probably been the most difficult year since its launch.
The industry leader, Alibaba, did not reveal the actual sales amount for the first time and only mentioned it had a similar transaction volume to last year. That means a 0% growth from last year’s CNY540bn in gross merchandise volume (GMV). Another key player, JD.com, also did not provide more details on the amount of transactions this year and only announced that it surpassed the industry growth rate.
At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, consumers and businesses were forced to move online as countries went into lockdown. This resulted in an 86% growth rate in 2020, more than triple the year before, and the GMV hit a historically high amount – nearly CNY500bn. It was an unusually high growth amount and it set a high bar for 2021. Although there was still growth in the total amount of transactions in 2021, it slowed to 8%.
In 2022, the growth rate dropped to 0%. The global economic downturn is one of the main contributing factors. Combined with China’s ongoing zero-Covid policy, people are struggling to keep their jobs and spend as usual.
However, macroeconomic conditions are not solely to blame. Last year, Alibaba was accused of monopolising the market and was charged a penalty of CNY18.2bn, in addition to which a new antitrust law was implemented starting from August 2022. This is likely another reason why we saw less marketing promotions and celebrations from the industry leader.