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China's shoppers turn out in droves for Black Friday

2014-12-05 13:12 China Daily Web Editor: Qin Dexing

Chinese shoppers emerged as a major force in the United States' Black Friday sales as their cross-border online spending during the annual event surged from last year's record, according to Alipay, the e-payment arm of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

It said on Thursday that cross-border transactions by Chinese consumers from Nov 28 to 30 were "more than triple" last year's figure, but it did not provide specific amounts for either year.

It was the first Black Friday event in which Macy's, along with several other retailers in the US, including Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, allowed Chinese shoppers to buy goods in the yuan through Alipay's ePass payment option.

Sabrina Peng, head of Alipay International, said that Alipay's retail partners in the US were impressed by their Black Friday sales, although many of them were unsure of the purchasing power of Chinese shoppers before the event. She added that Alipay is working to deepen collaboration with US retailers.

According to Alipay, female apparel such as handbags, clothes and shoes, along with infant products and beauty products, were the most popular items. Those products accounted for more than 80 percent of the Black Friday purchases by Chinese shoppers.

Shoppers in Shanghai were the top buyers from China, accounting for just over 16 percent of total transactions. Consumers in Beijing made 11.8 percent of the purchases, followed by those in Guangdong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces.

Although cross-border e-commerce was more popular in the developed coastal regions ranked by absolute numbers, shoppers in inland regions actually led in terms of average spending per capita. People in Shanxi province spent the most with an average of 1,164 yuan ($189) worth of goods via Alipay.

Wang Xiaoxing, an e-commerce analyst with the Beijing-based Internet consultancy Analysys International, said he was surprised that the Black Friday event proved so popular in China.

"I noticed that the offerings by US retailers were few. Though they did some localization, not all the shopping websites were in Chinese," said Wang. There is still much to be done to improve the user experience, said Wang, but there is also a lot of potential for Black Friday to achieve better sales in China.

Yang Xiaoxing, a Beijing white-collar worker who made a lot of online purchases during the event, said that there is more risk of not receiving a package because cross-border delivery is time-consuming and complicated.

"But if you take the delivery cost and duty cost into account, the prices are still lower compared with department stores in China. More importantly, I can be sure that the items I ordered in the US are genuine products. That is what matters most to me," she said.

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