Sin­gles’ Day spree on track for new record

The Daily Telegraph - - Business - By Ash­ley Arm­strong

CHI­NESE con­sumers splurged $12bn in the first two hours of Sin­gles’ Day, the world’s big­gest shop­ping event, with firms across the world do­ing their best to cash in.

Sin­gles’ Day started as an ob­scure “anti-valen­tine’s” cel­e­bra­tion for sin­gle peo­ple in China in the Nineties, but it has be­come the world’s big­gest on­line shop­ping day af­ter Jack Ma, bil­lion­aire owner of shop­ping giant Alibaba, spot­ted an op­por­tu­nity. In China, Novem­ber 11 is known as “bare sticks hol­i­day” be­cause of how it looks nu­mer­i­cally (11.11) and has be­come a way for peo­ple to cel­e­brate sin­gle­dom.

Alibaba be­gan launch­ing “Dou­ble 11” deals in 2009 just as on­line shop­ping be­gan to ex­plode and trade­marked the term Sin­gles’ Day by 2012.

Since then it has be­come a huge global event, com­plete with a Su­per Bowl-type gala and celebrity guests. This year Alibaba has called on singer Jessie J and ac­tress Ni­cole Kid­man to pro­vide glam­our and the Blue Man Group per­form­ers for en­ter­tain­ment at the Shang­hai-based event.

Last year, Chi­nese shop­pers spent $17.8bn in 24 hours, with $1bn splashed in the first hour. Sin­gles Day dwarfs other re­tail spend­ing and was triple the $5.9bn spent by US shop­pers across Black Fri­day, Cy­ber Mon­day and Thanks­giv­ing last year.

“By 2020, China’s e-com­merce mar­ket is set to be larger than those of the US, Ja­pan, Ger­many, the UK and France com­bined”, said Nick Lan­don, man­ag­ing direc­tor of Royal Mail Parcels. Around 60,000 in­ter­na­tional brands are due to take part this year. Bri­tish gro­cer Waitrose ex­pects sales of its goods, in­clud­ing English wine and bis­cuits and tea, which are avail­able on Alibaba’s Tmall, to quadru­ple.

“It’s dif­fi­cult to ig­nore the im­por­tance of the Chi­nese mar­ket, par­tic­u­larly e-com­merce, as de­mand for high qual­ity, Bri­tish prod­ucts con­tin­ues to grow rapidly,” said Daniel Arm­strong, Waitrose busi­ness man­ager. “Our sales in China are al­ready up al­most 75pc on last year.”

The Blue Man Group were among the per­form­ers at Shangai’s Mercedes-benz Arena at the launch of China’s pre­mier shop­ping event

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