China’s midyear shopping festival, known as 618 because it runs from June 1 to 18 each year, was started by JD.com in 2004, but has since grown to include other platforms like Alibaba and Pinduoduo and now serves as an important indicator of the country’s e-commerce market.
The festival this year was particularly noteworthy because it came after China imposed lockdowns to limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic that pushed the country into its first economic contraction in four decades.
What 618 showed us this year is that China’s e-commerce giants are still enjoying robust growth. Alibaba reported that its gross merchandise volume, or GMV, reached 698.2 billion yuan ($98.7 billion). The Hangzhou-based company said that its transaction volume was up over 100% in the first hour of sales.
JD.com reported that its transactions came in at 269.2 billion yuan ($38 billion), a jump of 34% from 2019.