Chinese supermarkets, airlines, and hotels are COVID victims, but ecommerce companies are raking it in

Illustration by Alex Santafé COVID and Beijing’s zero-tolerance response are having a depressing impact on consumption and cast a pall over the May Day holiday. As supply chains are snarled up and manufacturing growth prospects look dim, the contrasting fortunes of Yonghui’s 1,000-plus stores and Pinduoduo’s online marketplace is a stark reflection of China’s battle with COVID.

This year’s May Day holiday, which ended yesterday in China, was miserable for many companies. Today’s retrospective business news from China is infected with a serious case of gloom. With various restrictions and lockdowns in place, the economy suffered: Five domestic airlines , China Southern Airlines 中国南方航空, Air China 中国国际航空, China Eastern Airlines 中国东方航空, Spring Airlines 春秋航空, and Juneyao Air 吉祥航空, collectively lost 22.13 billion yuan ($3.34 billion) in the first quarter, continuing the trend of losses from 2021 .

Movie attendance has tanked: While movie theaters are closed down in Beijing and Shanghai, according to the China Film Administration , the national box office take during the May Day holiday (April 30–May 4) was only 296 million yuan ($44.78 million), a year-on-year drop of 82.28% and the lowest level since 2013.

Hotels and guesthouses around the country are standing empty , and have slashed prices by as much as 50% .

But tourism isn’t completely dead: According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism , 160 million domestic tourists traveled around the country during the May Day holiday, but that was a year-on-year decrease of 30.2%. Domestic tourism revenue during the long weekend totaled 64.68 billion yuan ($9.78 billion), a year-on-year decrease of 42.9%.

The context

COVID’s impact on consumption patterns is vividly illustrated today in the contrasting fortunes of Yonghui Superstores 永辉超市, a brick-and-mortar supermarket chain with 1,057 stores around the country, and Pinduoduo 拼多多, an ecommerce […]

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