Lovebirds shop online for Valentine's Day
Chinese shoppers have been spending more for their loved ones ahead of Valentine's Day, igniting the festive domestic market.
Gift-givers, in the hope of wooing their love interests, are increasingly turning to online shopping, as data from major digital retailers showed a roaring demand for flowers in the days before February 14.
Sending flowers is a time-honored tradition to celebrate the romantic day. In just three days, 500,000 roses and tulips from plantations in southwest China's Yunnan Province have been snapped up on Alibaba's group-buying service Juhuasuan.
Meanwhile, orders for flowers grew by 69 percent on Alibaba's Taobao marketplace, with orders for roses up 220 percent.
Flower sales soared 339 percent on another e-commerce giant JD.com over the same period. Preserved fresh flowers, bouquets in boxes and mixed-color roses were the top three best selling products.
Shoppers are also linking their Taobao accounts with those of their sweethearts as a new way to spread their love. Over 12 million couples have linked their accounts together over the past year, according to Taobao.
Alibaba officially rolled out the new function "relative account" on February. 1, 2018, which allows its users to pay for each other.
For Xie Minchao from the eastern city of Suzhou, it is heart-warming and special to fulfill his girlfriend's wishes online. Xie linked his account with his girlfriend's just ahead of Valentine's Day.
"We work in different cities and talk about new and funny things with each other every day," he said. With their accounts now connected, they can share real-time information on the Taobao app.
Every time Xie found a cool product on Taobao, he would forward the link to his girlfriend, asking for her advice. It has been a great conversation starter for the couple. Sometimes he would purchase the items of the links she sent to him.
"It's ceremonial that we help fulfil each other's wishes," he said.
Couples exchanging presents this year prefer premium brands. Leading online retailer Suning.com reported a 76.5 percent rise in sales of imported cosmetics, with MAC, Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior on the best-selling list.
The percentage of males who bought imported lipsticks went up from 38 percent to 58 percent in the past few days, according to Suning.com.
Many shoppers picked up presents like Givenchy Le Rouge lipsticks, chocolates and music boxes with a "gifts" function on the Taobao app, sending out their sweet surprises online.
People are also expressing love by emptying their partner's shopping cart.
JD.com saw a huge increase in orders for products like Dyson hair dryers, four-leafed clover bracelets, skin care products, and smartphones.
Valentine's Day gifts of special interest — a handcrafted book with personal photos or useful household supplies — are also more attractive to Chinese consumers.
In their everyday conversation via the Taobao app, Xie knows what his girlfriend wants. He plans to surprise her with a four-leafed clover necklace.
Besides February 14, lovers across China celebrate the traditional Chinese Valentine's Day, or the Qixi Festival, which falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month.
The coming Lantern Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month, is also an important day for Chinese couples. In ancient times, young men and women usually went out into the streets and met each other on the day when the curfew was lifted.