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China’s 618 Shopping Festival Rakes in Big Sales for E-Commerce Giants

Tmall's turnover in the first hour of 618 was up 100 percent year-on-year. Alibaba
Tmall's turnover in the first hour of 618 was up 100 percent year-on-year. Alibaba

China’s 618 sales festival, which started life as an anniversary sale commemorating the founding of JD.com on June 18, has become the most important promotion season for brands and e-commerce players in the country, after Singles’ Day in November. Like Singles’ Day, it has been stretched in recent years from a one-day event into a shopping spree spanning weeks.

By 2pm today, JD.com, said its 618 gross merchandising volume (GMV) reached 305.6 billion yuan ($47.48 billion) and the average turnover for what it described as its “core brands” was 4.3 times that of the same period last year. Douyin, a relative newcomer to the e-commerce battlefield, hasn’t released its latest sales figures, but previously revealed it had amassed more than 1.4 billion yuan ($217.5 million) in GMV on the first day of its 618 campaign.

The latest data from Tmall, the e-commerce platform owned by the Alibaba Group, showed that its turnover in the first hour of today was up 100 percent year-on-year. The brands on its platform have gained a combined total of nearly 60 million new store followers since the start of the campaign in early June, with some brands making more than 50 percent of their sales from these new followers.

The performance of local players and emerging brands both stood out. From June 1 to 15, 459 new brands topped different vertical categories on Tmall, up 27.5 percent from last year’s Singles’ Day. Data from JD.com showed a nine-fold increase sales for local streetwear brands, sneaker and sportswear brands over the same period last year.

Amidst growing attention to the environmental costs of major e-commerce shopping festivals in China, Tmall for the first time disclosed its carbon emissions per order, which it said fell 17.6 percent compared to last year’s festival period. US outdoor clothing brand Patagonia also made waves with a much-talked about announcement that it would not participate in 618 and instead would continue to encourage Chinese shoppers to consume more rationally.

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