By Casey Hall and Albee Zhang
BEIJING (Reuters) -Alibaba’s online shopping platforms Taobao and Tmall said on Friday they had cancelled their Dec. 12 shopping festival and will instead host another shopping spree called ‘year-end good price’ from Dec. 9.
“Compared with the 12.12 festival of previous years, the discount intensity, scale of merchants and the scale of commodities have all been greatly improved,” a written statement from Alibaba supplied to Reuters read in part. It did not specify how long the festival would run.
The 12.12 shopping festival, held annually on Dec. 12 since 2012, was the less-celebrated sister of November’s Singles Day sales festival, which traditionally fell on Nov. 11 but has in recent years ballooned into a multi-week event beginning in late October.
This year marked the second time Alibaba declined to release its sales results for the Singles Day festival period, but data provider Syntun estimated cumulative gross merchandising volume (GMV) sales across major e-commerce platforms rose 2.08% to 1.14 trillion yuan ($156.40 billion) compared with growth of 2.9% last year.
According to Alibaba, 80 million products were offered at their deepest discount of the year for Singles Day.
Analysts saw Alibaba’s focus on discounts this year as an attempt to fight rivals such as Douyin and PDD Holdings’ Pinduoduo that have changed the landscape of Chinese e-commerce in recent years by selling lower-cost and discounted items year-round.
Chinese consumers are in a thrifty mood, amid a deepening crisis in the country’s giant property sector, where most of the country’s household wealth is parked, spending cuts by highly indebted local governments, youth unemployment rates surpassing 20%, and falling wages in some sectors of the economy.
“Macroeconomic headwinds are causing consumers to be more value-conscious,” consultancy Bain said in a report released earlier this month focused on Singles Day sales.
(Reporting by Casey Hall and Albee Zhang; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Edmund Klamann and Kim Coghill)