Online site remove sneaker listings following criticism of price gouging

Ding Yining
Shanghai-based online community and sports apparel shopping site Dewu banned three user accounts and removed overpriced footwear in the wake of a scathing Xinhua editorial.
Ding Yining

Shanghai-based online community and sports apparel shopping site Dewu banned three user accounts and removed footwear that is obviously overpriced after the state news agency Xinhua criticized the hoarding and price gouging of popular sneakers made by domestic sports brands. 

Dewu today cited the "extremely volatile" price of 20 sneakers, including some made by Li-Ning, 361 Degrees, Peak Sports and Anta, and will step up scrutiny of price irregularities.

Dewu app is an affiliate of Shanghai-based sports community Hupu and attracts fervent sports fans and sneaker lovers. It also enables merchants and individuals to sell or exchange their sneaker collections.

Several Anta and Li-Ning sneakers were priced 10 more times their original price, including Li-Ning's "Way of Wade" — the signature sneaker of former NBA player Dwyane Wade — which was priced at 49,889 yuan (US$7,675) on Dewu, but only cost 1,499 yuan when it's first launched.

There was no transaction record of the "Way of Wade" sneaker as of Sunday, according to previous media reports, and other popular Li-Ning shoes were sold to dozens of shoppers at a markup of more than six times. 

The price of an Anta sneaker tie-in with Japanese cartoon series Doraemon went up to 3,290 yuan on Dewu from its original price of 499 yuan.

A Xinhua commentary on Monday criticized the price gouging of home-made apparels and shoe collections, saying it could hurt true sports lovers and risk losing the trust of shoppers.

"Online platforms are helping play up the scarcity of limited sneakers, and they should stick to their basic roles and build up a trustworthy transaction site," it said.  

People's Daily also said in a commentary over the weekend that such price irregularities deviate from basic market rules, and called for market watchdogs to step up regulations against such activities.

Dewu said most of its sneaker listings are regular ones, limited editions only account for a small number of trendy shoes sold on the platform and the company does not interfere in the trading process between buyers and sellers.

Trendy shoes, the latest limited editions and vintage rare offerings are sold on Dewu with prices ranging from several hundred to tens of thousands of yuan, including Nike’s well-known classic shoe Air Jordan.

The recent hoarding of signature or limited edition sneakers from Chinese sports brands Anta and Li-Ning comes in the wake of Chinese people's increasing anger over some overseas apparel brands' boycott against Xinjiang cotton.

They belong to dozens of sports and apparel brands including H&M, Nike and adidas in the Better Cotton Initiative, which last year announced it would no longer support purchasing cotton from northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region due to allegations of forced labor.

Chinese shoppers have turned away from brands that boycott cotton and related products from Xinjiang, and are instead turning to home-grown brands, creating conditions for price increases.

Sellers target those willing to pay a premium for limited editions and sometimes charge exorbitant prices. 

The stock prices of many Chinese textile and cotton companies skyrocketed in late March, as investors bet they would benefit from the shift in domestic consumer preferences.  

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