There is no longer any holiday shopping season as shopping holidays are now available all year round.
Shopping holidays are made use by corporations to encourage consumerism to boost their sales. They can either be created based on real events like Christmas or made-up ones like Prime day. Overconsumption is both a waste of money and a drag on the earth’s resources.
Before we had the internet, we bought gifts for family and friends during Christmas and birthdays. We then have the Great Singapore Sale and Black Friday, shopping holidays that are created by businesses.
With the prevalence of eCommerce, the eCommerce platforms have slowly introduced their own self-created shopping holidays. Their catchy jingles are performed by celebrities, highlighting keywords like “Free Shipping”, “Add To Cart”, “Cashback”, “Discount”, “Buy Now” and “Don’t Wait”. All these just to get you on the app and buy, buy, buy.
In this blog post, we will specifically look at the self-created shopping holidays.
List Of Shopping Holidays
Here are some of the shopping holidays that I have identified
Natural Shopping Holidays
Although they have since been commercialized, these dates occur naturally and have some cultural meaning behind them and we buy gifts during these dates in celebration
- Chinese New Year
- Christmas Day
- Valentine’s Day
- Mother’s Day
- Father’s Day
- Single’s Day
Corporate Created Shopping Holidays
These dates are created for the sole purpose to fuel consumerism and encourage shopping.
- Great Singapore Sale
- Cyber Monday
- Black Friday
- Prime Day
- Numbered Shopping Holidays – 9.9, 10.10 etc
The Biggest Online Shopping Holiday – 11.11 Alibaba’s Singles Day
Although many eCommerce platforms have since held promotions on 11.11, Singles’ Day was made popular by Alibaba.
It started in the early 1990s in Chinese colleges as a celebration of singlehood. 11.11 is named Singles’ Day as the four digits look like “bare sticks”. “Bare sticks” is an expression in mandrin that represents single people.
In 2009, Alibaba adopted the idea of Singles’ Day and created a shopping holiday to promote self-gifting for singles to treat themselves better.
Alibaba then rebranded the single day Singles’ Day (pun intended) on 11.11 to become a month-long shopping holiday. It focused on local sales in China but now it has expanded to be global with the event being called the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival.
The dominance of Alibaba’s Singles’ Day sale can be seen in the tweet below.
U.S. retail’s biggest shopping holidays of the year, from #BlackFriday to #CyberMonday, generated $24.6 billion in online revenues, according to @Adobe. But that figure is still far below Alibaba’s 11.11 which in 2019 reached $38.4 billion – in just 24 hours. #Double11 pic.twitter.com/WydXm3yF5k
— Alibaba Group (@AlibabaGroup) December 4, 2019
Source: Alibaba Group
In 2019, Alibaba’s 11.11 made 56% more than the four big US shopping holidays in online sales in 24 hours.
The 2020 Singles’ Day festival, which lasted 11-days, moved 498.2 billion Yuan or US$74.1 billion worth in merchandise. This is an 85% increase compared to 2019.
These crazy numbers are mainly fueled by domestic consumption. Alibaba aims to serve 2 billion customers by 2036. With the local population being at 1.4 billion, they will be looking to expand their services globally.
Evolution Of Shopping Holidays
Previously, we had pockets of shopping holidays here and there. But now, we already have shopping holidays all year round thanks to Shopee and Lazada. The month-long shopping holidays by the eCommerce giants started with on the date itself (e.g 11.11, 1.1, 2.2) to week-long ones to now having them last all month long.
The dominant platform in Singapore is Shopee where they beat out Lazada on traffic although they came out later than Lazada. Shopee have completed the circle with having a shopping holiday every single month while Lazada currently does not have shopping holidays every month on its platform.
The year-round availability of shopping holidays is to condition consumers to set aside a part of their time and budget to participate in the sales every month.
Revenue Boosting Effect Of Shopping Holidays
So how does the presence of shopping holidays drive consumers to buy more?
Focus On Savings, Not Spending
With all the huge discounts, cashback and free shipping, consumers tend to focus on how much they saved instead of how much did they spend. They can get more stuff for the same amount of money so they think it is great value for money.
Consumers do not want to miss out on limited-time promotional sales discounts and other perks like free shipping, free gifts and cashback.
The limited-time promotions create urgency for consumers to make the purchase, without thinking about whether they even need the product.
Life is getting more and more stressful and some of us turn towards shopping to relieve some of this stress.
Shopping makes some of us happy because it tends to restore a sense of personal control over our environment and allows the consumer to feel less “helpless”.
With Singapore society becoming more affluent and digitally savvy, online shopping is a convenient and accessible avenue for people to relieve some of this stress.
Combined with limited-time promotions during shopping holidays, this combination can be very deadly on the wallet.
The amount of time cooped up during the circuit breaker period has also pushed a lot of people to start shopping online not only for convenience but also for retail therapy.
Online shopping has become a hobby instead of a need-to or want-to basis. Instead of buying based on personal demand, the shopping app tells you “what to buy” based on what is on discount, top sales or the daily discover tabs.
There is also a timer on the Flash Deals tab to induce FOMO. The flash deals encourage you to grab the deal before the flash deal ends or before the items sell out.
Although the daily discover tab sounds organic, they are actually ads.
When you have nothing to do, you will pick up your phone and start looking for deals on the shopping apps. On top of gaming or social media, online shopping has become one of Singaporeans’ favourite pastime.
An item might be available all year round for S$10 but during a sale, the price is boosted up to S$20 but a 50% discount is given. Although S$10 and 50% off S$20 ends up being the same price, the one with the discount looks a lot more attractive.
A perceived discount makes you think you managed to get a great deal, giving you the feeling of winning. Coupled with the flashy discounts available during shopping holidays, it is easy to exceed your budget.
There are browser add-ons like the Shopee Price Tracker and others that help you look at the price history of the items that you are looking at to make sure the sellers are not up to any pricing shenanigans.
Game Plan To Exploit The Shopping Holidays
Shopping holidays undeniably gives us some great deals. We should make use of the sales and discounts of the shopping holidays while minimizing the downside of overconsumption. Here are some tips where we can take advantage of these shopping holidays without succumbing to their tactics.
Install Apps Only When You Need To Buy Something
If you do not need to buy anything, keep the apps deleted.
The eCommerce apps love to send you notifications all year round to entice you to get into the app to browse and eventually buy something. The best solution is to delete them off your phone until the time to buy something.
Identify Needs Vs Wants
Make up a list of items that you need (e.g. groceries, diapers, milk powder) and want (e.g. sixth pair of jeans, 6-in-1 air fryer). It is tempting to add to cart that cheap item at a discount although you probably would never use it.
Identify and evaluate what you need and want based on your own mind instead of letting the eCommerce platforms telling what you need during the shopping holidays via flash deals and special promotions.
Give Yourself A Budget
It’s easy to go crazy during shopping holidays so it is important to set a budget that you cannot exceed. Add the discounted items to the cart and remove the least important item one by one until your budget is met.
Try “Monitor” Shopping Instead
Instead of window shopping IRL, we have ”monitor” shopping online. Without clicking on the buy button, you can just browse online and “monitor” shop. Some studies say that “monitor” shopping achieve similar effects to retail therapy. Just add them to cart and not press the “confirm” button.
Make Use Of Discount Codes And Add-Ons
Searching around the site or googling for discount codes are a must. When I bought groceries at Kim Mart, I only realized there is a promo code after I placed my order. I missed out on S$6 worth of discounts which is about 8% off my total bill.
Download Shopback on your mobile and browser to make sure you don’t miss out on any potential cashback or discount codes that can save you some money. This is especially significant during purchasing of big-ticket items like house appliances or travel bookings.
Shopping holidays are created by corporations to boost their sales and to encourage you to buy more. Although shopping holidays can bring about big discounts and savings, buying things that you do not need in the first place is both bad for your wallet and the environment. Make sure you make your purchase decisions on your terms and don’t get influenced by the marketing tactics of the eCommerce platforms. Have a game plan during the shopping holiday and follow through to make sure you gain the most out of it and not spend unnecessarily.