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  • Writer's pictureLeaf Digital

A Look at the 2024 618 Shopping Festival: Trends, Results, and Future Prospects

Updated: Jun 28

The 2024 618 Shopping Festival, China’s second-largest annual online shopping event, concluded with impressive results, albeit with mixed reactions from both consumers and industry experts. This year’s festival, extending from late May to June 18th, featured extensive discounts and promotions across major e-commerce platforms like JD.com, Taobao, and Tmall. Despite concerns about the economic outlook, the festival still managed to achieve significant sales milestones, highlighting both resilience and evolving consumer behaviors in the Chinese market.

Text saying "618 shopping festival" and a lady standing with a phone and shopping bags

Origin and Significance of the festival

Initiated by JD.com, the 618 Shopping Festival dates back to June 18th, 1998, the founding day of JD.com. Initially conceived to celebrate JD.com's anniversary, the festival has grown into a major national shopping event, rivalling Singles Day (11.11) in both scale and impact. What started as a one-day celebration has evolved into an 18-day extravaganza, involving a wide array of e-commerce platforms, including Taobao, Tmall, and Pinduoduo. The festival's significance lies not only in its ability to boost mid-year sales but also in its role as a barometer for consumer confidence and economic health in China.


Shifts in Consumer Behavior

This year’s 618 Shopping Festival highlighted several notable shifts in consumer behavior. Post-pandemic, Chinese shoppers have become more mindful of their spending, focusing on quality and value rather than sheer quantity. Livestream shopping continued to gain traction, with platforms like Douyin and Xiaohongshu seeing significant increases in engagement and sales through live broadcasts.

Additionally, there was a noticeable surge in demand for health and wellness products, reflecting an increased consumer focus on personal well-being. The simplification of promotion mechanisms by major e-commerce platforms also played a key role in attracting a broader audience, making it easier for consumers to understand and access discounts.

Record-Breaking Sales Figures

Despite a challenging economic environment, the 2024 618 Shopping Festival achieved remarkable sales figures. JD.com reported a new high in turnover and order volume, with over 500 million users placing orders during the event. Notably, 83 brands surpassed the RMB 1 billion mark in cumulative sales. Alibaba's platforms, Taobao and Tmall, also saw significant performance, with brands like Apple, Nike, and L’Oréal leading in sales. The festival's overall gross merchandise value (GMV) reached 798.7 billion yuan ($110.5 billion USD), reflecting a 14.7% year-over-year increase, showcasing the event's strong impact on boosting mid-year retail sales.

Challenges and Controversies

This year’s festival faced several challenges and controversies despite its successes. One notable issue was the extended duration of the festival, which some experts believe diluted the excitement and urgency typically associated with such events. The festival's lengthier sales period, combined with continuous discounts throughout the year, contributed to a sense of consumer fatigue and diminished enthusiasm.


Additionally, there was criticism from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) regarding aggressive pricing policies. These SMEs found it difficult to compete with the deep discounts offered by larger brands, which strained their profit margins. Over 50 book publishers also expressed their dissatisfaction, choosing not to participate due to the steep discount requirements imposed by JD.com.


Moreover, the broader economic challenges facing China, including a prolonged property crisis and high unemployment rates, also cast a shadow over consumer spending. While the festival did generate substantial sales, the overall growth rate was tempered by these economic headwinds.

Reflecting Post-COVID Consumer Behavior

The 2024 festival provided a clear indication of evolving consumer habits in the post-COVID era. This year, consumers showed a marked preference for quality and essential items over non-essential products. The significant increase in demand for health and wellness products highlighted a shift towards personal well-being and mindful spending. The festival's performance suggested a cautious but ongoing recovery in consumer confidence. Despite economic uncertainties, the willingness of consumers to participate in large-scale shopping events demonstrated a resilient appetite for spending, particularly on essential and high-quality products.


Livestream shopping continued to gain popularity, with platforms like Douyin and Xiaohongshu seeing substantial increases in engagement and sales. This trend underscores the growing consumer desire for interactive and engaging shopping experiences.


However, the extended duration of the festival and continuous discounts throughout the year led to a sense of consumer fatigue. Shoppers appeared more selective, focusing on value and quality rather than sheer volume of purchases. This indicates a shift towards more informed and deliberate spending, reflecting cautious optimism and a gradual recovery in consumer confidence post-pandemic.

Overall, the 2024 618 Shopping Festival highlighted the resilience and adaptability of the Chinese retail market, pointing towards a promising future for e-commerce in the region.


4 Chinese people sitting looking at their phones with a lot of shopping bags in front of them

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