China’s Shopping Festivals

June 18, 2023
By Helena Beard

Shopping is one of China’s favourite pastimes. So much so, that there are a number of festivals throughout the year dedicated to the sport of retail therapy. Here’s Guanxi’s quick guide to China’s Shopping Festivals.

One of the most important is the annual 618 Shopping Festival. ‘618’ represents the date June 18, and the 618 is the second largest shopping event in China after Singles’ Day on November 11. The 618 Shopping Festival was launched back in 2010 by China’s leading online shopping platform, to mark the company’s anniversary. Over the years, others jumped on the bandwagon of its success and this event has transformed into an impressive annual event that attracts millions of people across the nation, mainly due to promotions from key e-commerce platforms such as Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book), Taobao and Douyin (Chinese Tiktok). Since then, the 618 Shopping Festival has progressed into a much-anticipated shopping month, pushing sales all through late May and peaking on June 18. 

618 is surpassed only by the Chinese version of Black Friday, the November 11 Singles’ Day. The four ‘1’s on the date 11/11 represent ‘singles’ and this has become an important date for people who are not in a relationship to celebrate and spoil themselves by doing lots of online shopping. Of course, it’s not just single people who take advantage of the bargains.

Are these the only shopping festivals in China? Definitely not. Chinese people are known for their enthusiasm for shopping. Thus they create lots of annual shopping events as an excuse to do more shopping. In fact, apart from shopping festivals for single people, there are two shopping festivals for couples too, namely the 520 festival (May 20) and Double 12 also known as Couples’ Day (December 12). 520 in Mandarin phonetically sounds like ‘Wo Ai Ni’ which means ‘I love you’. Additionally, there is also a Chinese national holiday known as Golden Week, which is one of the most profitable and busiest weeks of the year for the tourism and retail sectors in China. This event occurs from October 1 to October 7 and people have a week off from work to travel and go shopping

During the shopping festivals, especially for the largest annual shopping events on November 11 and June 18, e-commerce platforms offer massive discounts and promotions on a wide range of products, spanning from beauty to fashion and even electrical appliances. These festivals carry immense importance in driving consumer spend as the discounts and rewards are so much more significant than those offered during other times of the year. Therefore, it is no surprise that consumers eagerly await them. In fact, many customers have already looked up their desired products and have them in their shopping carts, ready to place an order on November 11 and June 18. 

All this promotion provides companies and retailers with the chance to increase sales, build reputation, and market themselves to Chinese consumers. During Golden Week in October, the national holiday delivers a great opportunity for retailers in prime tourism destinations like London, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong to join in the celebrations, offering both online promotions and offline discounts in the stores to drive extra footfall. Marking Chinese festivals and events is also a great way to demonstrate a friendly China Welcome.

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