China’s Shanghai Pins Hopes on Double Five Shopping Event

With a knowing wink to Singles’ Day, the commercial shopping event created by Alibaba, the city of Shanghai is starting its own Double Five shopping festival, which will run through June.

While the name may be a reference to 11.11, the name used for Singles’ Day which falls on November, 11, the festival was an idea born out of the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year, the Shanghai municipal government announced the shopping festival as a means to “boost consumer confidence and unleash the potential of consumer demand” as the city sought to keep businesses alive

Chinese consumers spent US$2.2 billion in the city over the first 24 hours of the festival, the Shanghai government said. For context, Adobe Analytics estimated that, across the entire United States, Americans spent US$34.4 billion over the recently formed “shopping week” that includes Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

Much like in China, pent-up consumer demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic may have been at play, as that was a 20.7 per cent increase from 2019.

Although the pandemic in China is largely under control, Double Five may be on its way to becoming a permanent fixture. The Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce called it a drive to boost “consumer spending in the wake of the country having effectively brought COVID-19 under control”.

While the government is clear to call Double 5 an online shopping festival, this year’s version is notably offline.

For example, in Putuo, a district in Shanghai, a tourism company called Global Harbor is launching activities specifically to promote the nightlife scene, according to Shanghai Daily. The district’s tourism board is following a similar tactic to show off the area’s Suzhou creek.

Qinpu district put on a performance dedicated to its farming heritage and Qibao was the host of a fairly large night market.

This year, major brands such as Muji, Origin Water and even Alibaba, the inventor of Singles’ Day, are getting into the mix.

Dada Group, a large on-demand delivery group in China, said it has collaborated with many “well-known retailers” to push for one-hour delivery during the festival. The company plans to use its on-demand retail platform JD-Daojia to host live streams during Double Five.

Besides simply being a push to increase consumption, Double Five has simultaneously become a promotional event for China’s digital yuan currency.

The digital yuan is considered the first serious exploration by a major economy of the viability of having its currency online.

Organisers plan to use the Double Five festival to increase the footprint of the digital yuan payment system, according to Shanghai Daily. One notable example is Meituan testing the system for its services, meaning people can use the digital yuan to buy online and offline products that Meituan would deliver. (Source: