China’s Singles’ Day is manna to Korean retailers

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China’s Singles’ Day is manna to Korean retailers

Korean investors and retailers are looking forward to China’s “Singles’ Day” on Wednesday, hoping it will stimulate online retail consumption in China and bring shoppers to Korean online sites - and even to stores in Korea. Every year, Singles’ Day falls on Nov. 11, a date that is abbreviated with no other numeral but the numeral one. The day was invented by students at Nanjing University in 1993, in a reaction to the western Valentine’s Day. It is supposed to champion people who do not have a boyfriend or girlfriend. It encourage singles to assuage their loneliness by shopping online from home.

Alibaba’s Tmall climbed on the Singles’ Day bandwagon in 2009 and launched promotional sales. Other Chinese retail giants followed suit, and Singles’ Day is now nicknamed China’s Black Friday, after the post-Thanksgiving sales in the U.S.

“Expectations for this year’s Singles’ Day are getting bigger as many retail stores are participating in the event along with online shopping malls through partnerships,” said Jeong Seung-eun, an analyst at Yuanta Securities Korea, said. “If retail consumption in the offline sector rebounds, it would boost anticipation of a recovery in the entire domestic consumption in China.”

A temporary rebound of retail sales in China could have a positive impact on the Korean stocks market, Kim Jin-yeong, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities.

“Despite worries over slowed growth in China, sales during the one-day event are forecast to double from a year earlier,” said Kim. “Several Korean manufacturers of consumer goods, such as cosmetics and baby products, are expected to benefit, as Chinese online shoppers could flock to Korean Web sites.”

Some Korean retail giants are hoping to attract Chinese tourists visiting Korea on Singles’ Day.

Lotte Department Store is holding a three-day discount event dubbed “Korea Singles’ Day,” between Tuesday and Thursday. Lotte’s three online shopping stores, including Lotte.com, will promote 200 items, offering up to 80 percent discount.

“For this year’s Singles’ Day, we put items worth about 15 billion won on sale at special prices,” said Jang Su-hyeon, an executive at Lotte Department Store.

Hyundai Department Store will offer up to 70 percent discounts in its stores on some Korean handbags or accessories, such as MCM bags or Louis Quatorze wallets.

Korean baby products such as milk power or diapers, which are favorites among Chinese consumers, will be offered at cheaper prices than usual.

“Nearly 90 percent of overseas customers who buy our products online are Chinese,” said Han Gwang-yeong, an executive at Hyundai Home Shopping who runs Hyundai’s online Web site Hmall. “We have promotions targeting Chinese online shoppers.”

BY LEE SEUNG-HO, LEE HYUN-TAEK [kim.heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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