Double 11, or Singles’ day, is usually full of fun fare across China’s ecommerce platforms. Tmall’s record-busting GMV figures are usually the highlight of the day:

Tmall 11.11 GMV in 2020

However, this year things have been eerily quiet. There are still galas, promotions, and group buy discounts. However, all major platforms, including and especially Alibaba, have been pretty muted about the top line numbers.

State media in China has been quiet too, leaving many private outlets guessing what has happened. Theories include:

  1. Consumers are weary after so many years;
  2. People are saving money for the uncertainties post-pandemic;
  3. TikTok or live-streaming in general has sucked all the attention away (think about impulse buying);
  4. Merchants are squeezed and thus not able to offer discounts as attractive as previous years;

All plausible, but top Chinese ecommerce platforms are actually very good at bumping up the GMV, if they were willing to. Ultimately this is the game on which they have been polishing their skills for years.

They are quiet because they chose to. In my opinion, the reason(s) can be remarkably simple:

  1. If they report a record busting number, they risk getting too much attention in the year of tech crackdowns;
  2. It they report a performance that is less than perfect, they might give the interpretation that China’s economy is weak – really not an ideal message on the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China;
  3. Besides, today (11 November) is the last day of the Communist Party of China Central Committee plenary, which passed a resolution reflecting the 100 years and cementing President Xi’s ideology. Does any ecommerce company really want to gate crash the party?

Keeping quiet at least on the day itself, in this instance, is the best course of action.

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at [email protected].