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Secrets of China told in shopping bill

Updated: 2014-01-15 11:03
( Xinhua)

Secrets of China told in shopping bill

Staff members of Tmall, a business-to-consumer marketplace of China's biggest e-commerce platform Alibaba, cheer for rising order volumes in Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang province, Nov 11, 2013. [Photo / Xinhua] 

BEIJING - If people were amazed but confused by the 35 billion yuan ($5.75 billion) the Chinese spent in a one-day online shopping spree last year, a new report from Alibaba can decode the mystery behind China's consumption and, possibly, tell more.

Alipay, China's leading independent online payment platform and subsidiary to the e-commerce giant Alibaba, on Monday released its "2013 National Shopping Bill," in which it took stock of Chinese consumer spending last year. It is the second time Alipay has published such a report.

Apart from the report, Alipay users received their personalized annual shopping bills via the company's mobile app, Alipay Wallet.

What these bills tell us goes far beyond money, analysts said.

Secrets of China

Chinese shoppers spent a record 35 billion yuan on November 11, China's "Singles Day."

Headline-making events were Alibaba's online retailer Taobao.com selling 1.6 million bras in one hour and a woman placing an order for a 13.3-carat diamond ring priced at over 20 million yuan.

Details of Alipay's national shopping bill sheds light on China's consumption landscape.

"The shopping bill is a window to observe the Chinese economy in the Internet and mobile spheres, people's social life and the transformation of Chinese shopping habits," said Fang Yingzhi, an analyst with the China e-Business Research Center.

Average online expenditure per person in 2013 exceeded 10,000 yuan, Alipay's report said.

Though it may be unsurprising that Alipay's top spenders in 2013 were affluent economic powerhouses of Guangdong, Zhejiang, Beijing, Shanghai and Jiangsu, the report showed that remote outposts in Qinghai, Tibet and Inner Mongolia made the top ten where mobile payment was most used.

The popularity of mobile payment in western China can be partly attributed to the relatively weak Internet infrastructure there, Fang said.

In the past year the Chinese made more than 500 million transactions through Alipay Wallet for purposes ranging from money transfers to topping up mobile phones. This was most common among people in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou, the report showed.

The Chinese not only love spending but have exhibited an interest in managing their wealth for more gains, according to the report.

A recognized rival to traditional banks in competing for deposits, Alibaba's Yu'E Bao (Left-over Treasure) attracted more than 40 million users and led to nation-wide enthusiasm for wealth management, a service big banks only reserve for the wealthy and blessed few.

The average age of Yu'E Bao users is 28 and there are more users (2 million) aged 23 than in any other other age bracket. Senior citizens could be its next target as only 2 percent of users are over the age of 50, the Alipay report said.

Yu'E Bao is most popular in Jiangsu, Guangdong and Zhejiang, provinces famed in China for entrepreneurship. 

Devil in details

While the Alipay report is useful to know more about China, individuals will also find it handy to reflect on themselves.

As many as 37 million people sleep late, the report said. Many payments were made through Alipay between midnight and 5:00 am.

These "panda people," a nickname with reference to the black circles around their eyes after a poor night's sleep like that on a panda, are easily found in Shanghai, the report said.

Men whose zodiac sign is Aquarius have a soft spot for shopping, Alipay said, citing an average annual spend of 18,558 yuan. Their counterparts are Scorpio women who spent an average of 16,713 last year.

Virgo men and women are the most frugal, the report said, calling the public to stop labeling virgos "fussy" and give them credit for their healthy restraints in shopping.

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Secrets of China told in shopping bill