Biz / Tech

Hong Kong consumers join Singles' Day shopping carnival

Consumers in Hong Kong have been eager to join their mainland compatriots in celebrating this year's Singles' Day shopping festival.

Despite various sales promotions in brick-and-mortar stores, consumers in Hong Kong, the oriental "shopping paradise," have been eager to join their mainland compatriots in celebrating this year's Singles' Day shopping festival.

Round-the-clock livestreaming promotion is offered besides coupons and cash returns. The Hong Kong station of Alibaba's e-commerce platform Tmall had introduced a series of measures to tap the potential of local residents' demand for mainland products weeks in the run-up to one of the world's largest online shopping seasons.

Mrs Lee got up early on Wednesday and the first thing she did was to pay for a dozen of products in her Tmall shopping cart.

"I never expected so many unique choices in the online supermarket, especially rice noodles. I bought quite a few flavors originated from different parts of China. These niche noodles are nowhere to buy in Hong Kong," she said.

Besides, she also bought some toys for her children. "The prices are very reasonable and the delivery is also quick and convenient at your doorstep," she added.

More than 250,000 brands and 5 million merchants have participated in this year's shopping spree, according to Tmall.

Chen Zijian, director of Tmall's Hong Kong and Macau businesses, said they are very optimistic about the situation this year and the online traffic is better than expected. After several years of localized operation, customers have been more familiar with the platform than before and their participation is also growing.

"During the epidemic, I often bought some disinfectant wipes and kitchen tissues on Tmall, which are much cheaper than those in Hong Kong. For example, a pack of 75-percent alcohol wipes costs more than HK$40 (US$5.2), but you can buy 4 packs with just 26 yuan on Tmall," Mr So, a Hong Kong resident, said.

This shift in shopping patterns has to do with the rapid rise of quality mainland goods in recent years and the COVID-19 pandemic is also a game-changer.

Mainland brands have become better in quality, design and technology, and consumers have become more confident in "Made in China," said Katie Sham, a principal of leading consulting company Oliver Wyman.

Sham said the epidemic has hit Hong Kong's brick-and-mortar retail sector, but it has also accelerated the growth of the online retail market, adding that the shift of offline to online platforms such as Tmall's Hong Kong station is crucial to the recovery of the Hong Kong retailing and will gradually change the shopping preferences and behaviors of Hong Kong consumers.

"Due to the epidemic, more and more residents in Hong Kong have started shopping online. Many people even purchased mainland products on Taobao and other websites early ahead of the November 11 shopping festival. This will be a trend in the future," said Tsoi Chung-kin, chairman of Hong Kong's Retail & Wholesale Trades Employees Association.

"Now some large companies in Hong Kong have begun to recognize this change in business model and started to develop online and offline sales simultaneously, which is very conducive to the recovery of Hong Kong's retail industry," he said.

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