Burning a hole in the wallet
The Lunar New Year is more than just an important occasion when the entire family reunites — it is also the most expensive event of the year for some Chinese according to the State Post Bureau.
Data from Cainiao, the logistics arm of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, shows that most of the packages were delivered to major cities such as Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.
Liu Hui, director of public relations at JD.com, one of the largest e-commerce platforms in China, said that the volume and value of orders placed on its site this year was twice that of last year.
According to Liu, Chinese consumers have maintained a strong interest in fresh food items, with the most searched products being steak, cherries, shrimp, dumpling, sea cucumber, seafood and fruit. The top three products bought during the Chinese Spring Festival were wines, seafood and fruit.
Besides shopping, dining and traveling, Chinese also spend considerable amounts on an activity that is not monitored by companies — red packet handouts.
Giving red packets filled with money to family members and friends is a tradition that is deemed as a blessing of peace and safety as well as a way to ward off evil spirits. According to a survey by China Youth Daily which polled about 2,000 people, 60.7 percent of Chinese view this tradition to be a key element of the Lunar New Year.
However, the survey also found that 57.9 percent of the respondents indicated that giving money away during the festive period has become a heavy burden for them — 57.2 percent of them said the money they gave away accounted for more than half of their monthly income.
Regardless, Chinese have been eager to share their wealth during the holiday period, especially in the digital realm.
From Chinese New Year’s Eve to the fifth day of the New Year, 46 billion red packets were given out and received through mobile messaging app Wechat, a 43.3 percent increase from 2016, according to Wechat operator Tencent.
Food is one of the things that Chinese spend the most on during the Spring Festival.