Spring Festival shopping goes online

Hosts sell local specialties during a livestream show in an e-commerce industrial park in Shanggao county, Yichun, east China’s Jiangxi province, Jan. 25, 2021. (People’s Daily Online/Zhou Liang)

Spring festival shopping, a long-established tradition of the Chinese during the Chinese New Year, is now taken online for better control of the COVID-19 pandemic.

An online Chinese New Year shopping festival has been launched by China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) in collaboration with the Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and other relevant departments.

The event, lasting from Jan. 20 (the eight day of the twelfth month in Chinese Lunar calendar) to Feb. 18 (the seventh day of the new year in Chinese Lunar calendar), is offering a safe and assuring place for consumers to make New Year purchases. Major e-commerce platforms such as Taobao, Tmall and Suning, have placed conspicuous banners of the festival on their front pages to attract consumers.

Tong Ming, 27, works in the advertisement industry in Suzhou, east China’s Jiangsu province. To make her luggage as light as possible is an important task for the woman who has to travel a long distance to get home for the Spring Festival each year. Therefore, Tong made her New Year purchases online, which she says is also contributing to COVID-19 control as it reduces unnecessary human traffic.

“It lightens my luggage and also ensures that my friends and relatives receive my gifts,” she said, adding that the preferable prices, product diversity and quality of online shopping were also the reasons for her to make New Year purchases online.

According to Qian Fangli, Director General of the Department of E-commerce of MOFCOM, Traditional Spring Festival shopping, reunions, dinner parties and calls and visits to temple fairs, though fixtures of the season, might pose transmission risks from congregation.

In view of this, MOFCOM will guide related businesses to ensure adequate supplies of essentials, such as rice, flour, cooking oil, meat, eggs, vegetables, milk and instant food, as well as anti-epidemic supplies like masks, disinfectants, and disposable gloves and meet consumers’ trading up demand by introducing more customized, smart, green and quality products.

The ministry will also further enrich and cover consumption scenarios in cities and the countryside, online and offline and at-home and in-store, among others, with virtual services that highlight traditional festivities, she introduced.

For example, special virtual activities such as festival shopping, market trips, cloud dining and greetings will be organized. Traditional branded and quality restaurants will be enlisted to provide home deliveries of meals for Chinese New Year’s Eve, weddings and birthdays. Supporting services that run throughout the Spring Festival holiday will be provided to enable happy and cheerful celebrations at home.

Imported commodities are in sufficient supply during the 2021 Chinese New Year Shopping Festival. The numbers of participating merchants and commodities on Taobao registered a record high this year, and Alibaba’s cross-border e-commerce platforms Tmall Global and Kaola are also presenting imported commodities from over 80 countries. During the Spring Festival, 260 stores of Hema Xiansheng, Alibaba’s grocery brand, will be kept open. Besides, online grocer Dmall is also stacking up its inventory of imported food for the upcoming Spring Festival.

It is reported that multiple express delivery companies, including Alibaba’s Cainiao, will maintain operation in over 200 cities between Feb. 4 and Feb. 19 (the Spring Festival holiday lasts from Feb. 11 to 17) to ensure delivery of orders during the festival. In addition, Tmall and Cainiao will also provide subsidies of more than 200 million yuan ($31 million) for frontier logistics workers.