Record Breaking $25bn Spent by Chinese Shoppers in Singles Day Splurge

By Faith Magbanua, November 14, 2017 23:11 PM

Singles Day(Facebook / BJReview)

The annual occasion for lonely hearts is now four times bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the biggest shopping day in the US calendar.

According to Daniel Zhang, chief executive officer of Alibaba, at the group's Singles' day festival in Shanghai, the company was able to record a yuan spending total of 168.2bn shown on the screen in their offices.

Overall, more than $25bn (168.2bn yuan) has been spent by shoppers during China's annual Singles Day, smashing its previous records for the world's largest retail event.

What is Single's Day?

Single's Day, is promoted annually by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and held every 11th of November each year.

The event was supposedly started by bachelor university students in the 1990s who bought themselves presents as a kind of anti-Valentine's day. The date 11/11 was chosen for its collection of lonely ones.

What's the catch?

The rage all about "single's day" is that, the companies offer deep discounts for a range of products sold during the 24-hour period. However, some deals have limits, such as the first 33 customers who had the chance to purchase a lifetime supply of the Chinese spirit baijiu for just 1,111 yuan (£1,275).

As of now, the shopping event is now nearly four times larger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the two biggest splurging days in the US. This year saw customers spend about 40% more on Alibaba than last year, and 2016's sales figure was reached in just 13 hours with $1bn spent in the first two minutes after midnight.

To add to that, other e-commerce companies also cut prices, but the event is closely associated with Alibaba.

The company flew celebrities to Shanghai to perform at a televised gala to mark the hours leading up to the start of Singles Day.

Actors like Nicole Kidman, Pharrell Williams and Maria Sharapova have appeared on stage this year, and past performers also included David and Victoria Beckham, Daniel Craig and Kobe Bryant.

Although the event didn't originated from the company, Singles Day is now heavily promoted by Alibaba, which runs several online marketplaces in China. Unlike Amazon, Alibaba simply provides a platform for stores to set up an online store, and does not actually sell goods directly to customers.

But the holiday is not universally celebrated. Greenpeace has called it a "catastrophe for the environment" and conducted research that showed the event produced 258,000 tons of CO2 emissions last year.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission launched a probe in 2016 into how Alibaba calculates its sales figures.

Aside from the SEC investigation, Singles Day, which requires an army of logistics workers to deliver millions of orders, has also been attacked for overworking both deliverymen and the stores that profit.

"It is by nature founded on a model of frenzied mass consumption that is unsustainable for global ecosystems - a crazed carousel of buying and selling that exploits some of China's lowest earners while casting materialism as a salve for a lack of psychological fulfillment," said a commentary on the Shanghai-based Sixth Tone news website.


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