The Chinese Lunar New Year holiday has traditionally played an important role in driving consumption, especially tourism. However, the week-long holiday this year witnessed different consumption patterns as people were encouraged to "stay put" to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Here are some fresh spending trends evidenced by online payment data, indicating robust service activities during the holiday.
The Spring Festival traditionally features exchanges of red packets of "lucky money" between different generations. Over the past few years, the tradition has been revamped by digital technologies, with grabbing virtual red packets on social media platforms becoming a new fashion, especially among the younger generation.
This year, the older generation jumped on the tech bandwagon as well. Red packets sent by people aged 60 and above through popular online payment platform Alipay surged 210 percent month on month during the holiday, while the red packets they received also soared some 430 percent.
The enthusiasm among the elderly in joining the "red packet fight" added to the network traffic. On the Lunar New Year eve, Chinese online payment clearinghouse NetsUnion processed 67,400 online payment transactions per second at the peak time, with a 100 percent success rate.
During the holiday, online payments through card payment giant China UnionPay hit a record high of 1.38 trillion yuan (214 billion U.S. dollars), up 4.8 percent from last year's holiday.
BOX OFFICE BOOM
While moviegoing is increasingly becoming an integral part of the Chinese people's Spring Festival celebrations, many found it difficult to buy a movie ticket during this holiday as cinemas were fully booked.
The "staying put" approach helped boost the box office, as around 75 percent of migrant workers stayed in the cities where they work during the holiday, Nomura Securities said in a research report.
China's box office revenue during the week-long Spring Festival holiday ending on Wednesday hit a record high of 7.8 billion yuan, beating the same holiday in the previous years.
The daily average number of movie tickets sold via Alipay surged more than 560 percent compared with January, with people in big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai among the most avid moviegoers, data from the payment platform showed.
As inter-city travels were minimized during the holiday amid strict anti-epidemic measures to reduce the risks of infections, people savored a variety of entertainment options within their cities.
The transaction value of local hotel bookings surged 190 percent year on year during the holiday, data from Alibaba's online travel service provider showed.
Ski resorts and spa centers were among the most popular local destinations, according to search results on Alipay.
Many chose to travel by public transportation or new energy cars. The search for charging piles surged 300 percent year on year while that for metro and bus services skyrocketed 630 percent and 388 percent, respectively, Alipay data showed.
The services activity data for the Lunar New Year holiday pointed to resilience in the Chinese economy, Nomura said in the report, adding that the resilience means China's GDP growth for the first quarter could be better than expected. Enditem