Pinduoduo has made it more convenient for consumers to shop online during Lunar New Year, the most important holiday in China when most businesses are shut.
The e-commerce giant has worked with merchants and logistics providers to stay open and dispatch orders during the weeklong public holiday, which began on Feb. 11.
In an industry first, China Post and courier companies like SF Express, Yunda Express, and J&T, are staying open during this holiday season, with an estimated million couriers out in force to deliver parcels. An official with China Post estimates that parcel volumes during the holiday period would be double that of last year.
Whereas consumers used to stockpile food and other essential items in previous years to “get through the new year,” online platforms like Pinduoduo have it made possible for consumers to buy what they need when they need it by placing their orders through the smartphone.
This is especially helpful for the millions of consumers who are choosing to “stay put and celebrate” the holiday to minimize the risk of spreading the coronavirus. They are buying presents online and sending them back home. The wide variety of products on platforms like Pinduoduo also enable these consumers to buy their hometown delicacies so that they can have a taste of home in their celebrations.
Consumers have increasingly taken to online shopping to fulfill their Lunar New Year needs.
Industrywide online retail sales surpassed 510 billion yuan ($79 billion) during the Jan. 20 to Feb. 3 period, Xinhua News Agency reported, citing preliminary data from the Ministry of Commerce. Online food and beverage sales were 40% higher than the same festive period a year ago, when many cities across the country were undergoing strict Covid-19 lockdowns to stem the spread of the virus.
So, what are Chinese consumers buying online leading up to the holiday?
Online sales of regional culinary highlights have surged since January as consumers stocked up on their hometown specialties, according to Pinduoduo.
Demand for local delicacies from Sichuan, Hunan, and Henan provinces was robust. Favorites include Chengdu firm tofu, Hunan grandma’s dish, Wuhan hot, dry noodles, Liuzhou snail rice noodles, Guangdong-style sausage, and Ningbo rice cake.
Among the consumers taking advantage of the promotions is Madam Yang, 54, who is staying in Chongqing with her daughter this year. Her mother, Madam Liu, 78, is back in their hometown in Wushan.
“I bought many items online and sent it to my mother in her hometown, said Madam Yang, who also uses the Pinduoduo app to buy her groceries, which she picks up downstairs of her apartment.
The “stay-put” New Year is also driving sales of everything from dumpling makers to books to lipstick as consumers indulged in some retail therapy.
For those in their 20s, fitness equipment, pet accessories, Kindles were among the three favorite purchases during the holiday season, according to Pinduoduo.
Self-care also ranked high up on the priority list, with strong sales of skincare and beauty products from lipstick and blusher to facial epilators.