Happy Global Shopping Festival? Never heard of that day before? Neither had I until this week when I was reading the news. It happens every November 11th, since it was created by internet retailer Alibaba in 2009, in China to coincide with “Singles Day.” In 2015, Alibaba is spreading it’s Global Shopping Festival through Asia to make the largest shopping day of the year even bigger. In 2014, Global Shopping Day accounted for $9.4 billion worth of sales in China alone! The 5-day stretch of Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday in 2014, considered the peak of American holiday shopping, grossed $6.6 billion with Cyber Monday grossing $2 billion.
Why Am I Writing About “Global Shopping Festival”?
I had never heard of “Global Shopping Festival” before. When the headline showed the Festival accounted for $9.4 billion in sales last year, my interest was piqued and I clicked on the article to read more. I thought to myself, how I never heard of this before & what new shopping day have the merchants invented now to capitalize on the holiday season.
I’m also interested in the Global Shopping Festival because I spent the last 7 years in the Transportation industry. I find it fascinating to see the route raw materials & finished goods take to get to the final destination. With that said, Thanksgiving to Christmas was also one of my least favorite times of the year because of its the “Peak Season” of commercialism. The rest of the world is having company Christmas parties, watching holiday classic on the tube, & I’m driving down the highway because several containers of FedEx & UPS containers are delayed and “somebody” needs to follow them in case of a mechanical breakdown that will delay them further.
$9.4 billion is a staggering number and this is just from China. I find it hard to compare apples to apples on this statistic when comparing it to the biggest shopping season in the Western world, Christmas. The Christmas shopping season seems to be drawn out more & more every year. Pretty soon, we might be doing our shopping on New Years Day. I’m joking there, but Labor Day or July 4th is more conceivable.
Update: 2015 Global Shopping Festival sales were $14.3 billion…that’s $5 billion increase from 2014!
The “Holy Grail” of the western shopping season is Black Friday & Cyber Monday. The closest internet-based equivalent is Cyber Monday, which held the previous single day internet shopping record. In 2015, Cyber Monday was dwarfed by Global Shopping Festival. In 2013, both of these days were more on par with each other, but perhaps out of national pride GSF went viral in 2014.
Impact of Global Shopping Festival
I am not as literate about Chinese culture and consumer trends as I should be. What I mean by this is, do they have big shopping season like we do? It is estimated that American spent $781 billion on Christmas gifts in 2014.
Regardless of cultural traditions, Global Shopping Festival shows the rising consumer power of China. Once the 2015 stats are released, we will see the increased buying power of China & Asia.
What is driving Global Shopping Festival to be so successful? Is it national pride, really good deals, or both?
Will western retailers change their marketing focus?
These are all questions I have & I will try to share my two cents.
Question 1: Why is Global Shopping Festival so successful?
Answer: Global Shopping Festival shows how Chinese wealth has increased in a nation with 1 billion+ citizens & retailers have capitalized on this & other holidays are gaining commercial traction as well. November 11th in China has been “Singles Day” since 1993, when college students came up with an “anti-Valentine’s Day.” This was already a commercial holiday of sorts & Alibaba made it bigger.
Question 2: Will western retailers change their focus?
Western retailers are definitely trying to get their share of the market in Asia because of the consumer phenomenon that 11/11 has become in that part of the world. This can benefit Western investors who invest in these companies with a direct global presence in China and the other participating nations.
I don’t think we will see a big consumer revolution in North America, we bleed Christmas for religious & cultural reasons. No matter what our financial wealth as a society is, Christmas is always going to be the big shopping season. It took years to make the “peak season” begin at Thanksgiving.
This year retailers have become more aggressive with their campaigns by beginning in early November already. Wal-Mart sends out personalized e-mails (the best way to capture somebody’s attention) with 10 Daily Deals every day beginning Nov 6th until Christmas. I’ve also seen the hashtag “#WinTheHolidays” where other retailers are offering “Black Friday” deals starting in Early November already.
Like it or not, the Western retail business model receives most its revenue in the holiday season. Stores have extended hours and hire seasonal help to man cash registers, stock shelves, and [UPS & FedEx hire seasonal help] to deliver packages. If you have a bad Christmas, you better count your beans twice before you eat them to make sure you have enough to last the winter.
My Opinion on Global Shopping Festival
I’m not a consumer by any stretch of imagination, but when I shop, I look for the best deal.
My wife & I have already begun our Christmas present shopping, but we haven’t used any of these early deals (that I know of). I know this seems like a personal double-standard. Every year we loathe the “Christmas Creep” where the shopping season starts earlier every year & store displays go up before the leaves have even turned color.
Retailers are capitalizing the consumer trends, and society as a whole is allowing them to market more aggressively.
I think the concept of “Black Friday” is madness. I don’t care how good a deal is, I’m not going to stand in line outside a store at 8pm Thanksgiving night or 5am on Black Friday to get an iPad or the latest tech gizmo for a bargain. I have gone to stores on Black Friday after lunch and scavenged the leftovers, when everybody else is either back at home or in the hospital.
If fighting crowds is your cup of tea, have at it. I’m going to be at home drinking eggnog.
I like the concept of Global Shopping Festival & Cyber Monday because I can do it from my own house. The only thing to be wary of, is knowing the average price for products purchase that “good deal.” This goes for brick-and-mortar shops as well.
Just because somebody says that buying product X for $15 is a good deal, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good deal for you.
If online sales events like Global Shopping Festival & Cyber Monday offer discounted deals that you won’t see in the remainder of the year, then I think it is a good option from a personal finance perspective.
I don’t necessarily think these consumer events are inherently evil. They are a side effect of disposable income, which means people have better living conditions throughout the world. My one concern is if our spending priorities are misguided when consumerism expands so much. Do we get caught in the perpetual hamster wheel of getting the latest toy for a bargain, instead of putting the money towards our family, debts, or helping others?
Alternatives to the Numerous, Various Shopping Extravaganzas
We all buy things out of need and want. If you are going to make a purchase, I advocate making planned purchases. Don’t buy on impulse and find the best deal. Search Craigslist & buy used when you can.
There are certain things to buy at discount rates during the year. Such as buying clothing on clearance when it goes out of season.
I also like “Small Business Saturday” that takes place the two days after Thanksgiving. It helps support the little man.
Personally I think it would be cool if retailers emphasized International Charity Day with as much gusto as the countless shopping events. It seems only once in a decade that charity becomes a pop culture phenomenon. Take “We Are The World” (1985 to combat AIDS) and its reprise (2010 for Haitian Earthquake) for example. Or the 2004 Malaysian tsunami, where you could text a message to the Red Cross to make a donation.
I just had to throw in the original “We Are The World” for a trip down memory lane. It’s amazing when you can bring a musical dream team together for a cause.
Isn’t the old adage, “It’s Better To Give Than Receive?”
What Do You Think? Do you take advantage of these online deals? Are you a stingy consumer like me, who will purchase what they want when they deem best, regardless of marketing?
Thanks For Reading,