As the Covid-19 epidemic changes how people live and what they buy, stay-at-home fitness activities and winter sports have become the norm during the recent spring festival
Ski gear sales during the first five days of this year's seven-day Spring Festival holiday (January 31 to February 4) jumped 180% year on year, driven by a tidal wave of interest in winter sports and the ongoing Beijing Winter Olympics, e-commerce website Tmall shows.
The business-to-consumer shopping site of Alibaba also revealed that the gross merchandise value (GMV) for ice skate products soared 300% from the same period last year.
Meanwhile, the e-commerce arm of Douyin, TikTok's domestic version, also reported that the sales of winter sports-related products increased by a staggering 639% during what is known as the "golden week" this year.
China Insights Consultancy (CIC), a market research firm, estimated that consumer spending during the Spring Festival in 2022 would top CNY 870 billion (USD 137 billion).
In comparison, the retail and catering sectors nationwide generated CNY 821 billion in revenue during the "golden week" in 2021, up 4.9% from the same period in 2019 and up 28.7% over 2020, when Covid-19 hit China and took a toll on the economy, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
Spring Festival, a traditional peak season for household consumption, usually reflects changes in people's shopping habits.
Changes are myriad amid the onslaught of the pandemic. As Chinese residents steadily trade up and Gen Z shoppers become the main driving force of domestic consumption, coupled with the rise of new retail brands, healthy "staycation" and winter sports-related activities and purchases have emerged as the key trend over the holiday, said Zhu Yue, a CIC partner.
"I believe the trend will continue," she noted.
Zhu added that over recent years, growing health concerns have prompted consumers to pursue a healthier lifestyle, with many swapping binge-eating during the Chinese New Year holiday for at-home workout.
Due to stricter travel curbs triggered by new Covid outbreaks early this year, a large number of Chinese chose to spend the holiday at home instead of traveling or visiting relatives. This has spurred the sales of fitness equipment.
Online promotion also led to a spike in demand for home fitness gear. During the Spring Festival in 2021, some online shopping sites sold 50% more worth of fitness goods than in the same period of 2020, CIC said, without specifying the names of the websites.
Data from Taobao, the consumer-to-consumer shopping site, and Tmall suggest that of all the gym equipment, the best-sellers are items conducive to "fat loss," which account for roughly 43% of the total.
ResearchAndMarkets.com, a top market intelligence firm, projects China's fitness equipment market to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.3% from 2021 to 2027, when the market size is forecast to reach USD 3.2 billion.
The choice of holiday delicacies and gifts also mirrors how people increasingly value health. Statistics from the e-commerce giant JD.com showed a 400% year-on-year leap in the sales of gift packs bearing the word "health."
Wang Wenhua, another partner at CIC, claimed that interest in healthcare topics has approached an all-time high during the pandemic, which naturally gives rise to products that cater to these needs.