Alibaba’s Lazada says shoppers cautious as mega-sale kicks off

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Southeast Asia e-commerce unit Lazada Group is seeing a slight pullback in higher-ticket items including electronics as the annual mega-sales event Singles’ Day kicks off.

Consumers are being more cautious when spending on high-ticket items such as very expensive electronics, Lazada Chief Business Officer James Chang said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Rishaad Salamat and Haslinda Amin on Friday. “People are thinking, now that things open up, is there going to be a lot of pullback. Indeed, in certain sectors and areas, we see that,” he said.

Still, the e-commerce platform is expecting customers to spend more and take advantage of discounts ahead of an anticipated era of accelerating inflation and a possible economic downturn. Many customers — especially for repeat purchase goods — are looking to enjoy the discounts to stock up, he said.

Lazada and Sea Ltd.’s Shopee have been luring online shoppers during monthly mega-sales events, offering bargains and special deals in Southeast Asia, a region of more than 650 million people. The discount-driven monthly affair reaches a peak during Singles’ Day, a 24-hour-long sales bonanza on Nov. 11 which seeks to replicate the success of its Chinese peers.

This year, online sales are set to stagnate as consumers cut back on spending amid rising inflation and the threat of a recession. Alibaba, the tech giant that dominates Singles’ Day in China, is expected to post flat to meager growth in takings from this year’s event — Bloomberg Intelligence has even raised the prospect of an unprecedented fall in the value of its transactions.

It’s hard to see where sales are going to end up at the end of Singles’ Day, but Lazada is “quite bullish,” Chang said. – BLOOMBERG