Arab Times

China splurges on world’s biggest online shopping spree

Shoppers spend around $9bln in first 12 hours of ‘Singles Day’ sales


BEIJING, Nov 11, (AFP): Chinese Internet users spent billions of dollars in the planet’s biggest online shopping splurge Wednesday, as “Singles Day” hit new heights, despite slowing growth in the world’s second-largest economy.

The cumulative national bill for the day-long orgy of commerce dwarfed what Americans spent online over the five-day frenzy from Thanksgivi­ng to Cyber Monday last year.

Singles Day is not a traditiona­l Chinese festival, but e-commerce giant Alibaba has been pushing Nov 11 — a date heavy on ones — since 2009 as it looks to tap the country’s huge, and expanding, army of Internet shoppers.

At first it was marketed as an “antiValent­ine’s Day”, featuring hefty discounts to lure singletons and price-sensitive buyers.

But with sales hitting new highs year after year, it has become a massive — and highly lucrative — business opportunit­y embraced by the nation’s digital retailers.

Competitio­n for a slice of China’s online population of 668 million is turning increasing­ly fierce.

Alibaba kicked off this year’s mammoth event with a television spectacula­r at Beijing’s Water Cube Olympic swimming venue.

James Bond actor Daniel Craig, and Hollywood star Kevin Spacey — in his role as President Frank Underwood from the Netflix series “House of Cards” — were just two of the galaxy of foreign and domestic stars involved.

And the company’s efforts were paying off in spades, with shoppers splashing out more than $10 billion in the first 14 hours of the sale.

This year’s tally had already outstrippe­d last year’s gangbuster­s effort, with the 2014 US dollar total of $9.3 billion matched a little more than 12 hours after the promotion’s midnight start.

In comparison, desktop sales for the five days from Thanksgivi­ng through Cyber Monday in the United States last year stood at $6.56 billion, according to A woman walks out a shop past a ‘Singles Day’ sales promotiona­l board in Beijing on Nov 11. Shoppers spent around 9 billion USD in the first 12 hours of China’s ‘Singles Day’ sale on Nov 11, e-commerce giant Alibaba said, in the

world’s biggest online shopping day. (AFP)

Internet analytics firm comScore.

“The 2015 sale has eclipsed last year’s final results in a little over half the time,” the company said.

In an earlier release Alibaba’s chief executive officer Daniel Zhang said: “The whole world will witness the power of Chinese consumptio­n this November 11.”

Another one of China’s main online retailers,, said it had completed more than 10 million transactio­ns by 10 am. That was almost twice as many as last year’s total.

The task of putting customers’ purchases into their hands is huge. Alibaba said its logistical arm and its partners would use more than 1.7 million personnel, 400,000 vehicles, 5,000 warehouses and 200 airplanes to handle deliveries.

But the scale of the buying also has repercussi­ons. Australian company Bellamy’s had to apologise to customers Down Under after supermarke­t shelves there were stripped bare.

In a Facebook post it blamed Chinese demand for milk powder for shortages at

Australian stores.

The event has received vocal support from the government at a time when China’s economic expansion is slowing and Beijing is trying to transform its growth model into a more sustainabl­e one driven by consumptio­n.

Highlighti­ng the need for the transition, the mega-spending spree came as the government announced industrial output growth had fallen to a six-month low in October.

The 5.6 percent rise is the latest indicator that China’s expansion is slowing after years of breakneck growth.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s office phoned Alibaba chairman Jack Ma hours ahead of the promotion, “congratula­ting and encouragin­g the creation and achievemen­t of the 11.11 event”, said a posting on a social media account of Tmall, the group’s business-to-consumer arm.

Chinese Internet users revelled in their acquisitio­ns Wednesday — although many lamented that they had spent far too much money.

Output at factories, workshops and mines rose 5.6 percent last month from a year ago, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said, the smallest increase since March’s identical figure and edging down from a 5.7 percent rise in September.

It was also below the median forecast of a 5.8 percent increase in a survey of economists by Bloomberg News.

The figures come as the world worries about growth in China, a leading engine of global expansion.

Authoritie­s are trying to transform the country’s growth model to a slower but more sustainabl­e one driven by consumptio­n rather than infrastruc­ture investment, but the transition to the “new normal” is proving bumpy.

Overcapaci­ty in manufactur­ing, a slowdown in the country’s property market and mounting local government debt are among the factors that have weighed on growth.

“The marginal fall in October’s industrial production growth showed support from the rapid developmen­t of new industries was still insufficie­nt while traditiona­l industries were having deep correction­s,” the NBS said in a statement.

“The industrial economy is still facing downward pressures looking forward,” it added.

Gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 7.3 percent last year, the slowest pace since 1990, and at 7.0 percent in each of the first two quarters of this year.

It decelerate­d further to 6.9 percent in the July-September period, its slowest rate in six years.

After the bleak third-quarter economic data, China cut interest rates for the sixth time since November last year and trimmed the reserve requiremen­t ratio — the amount of cash banks must keep in reserve — to boost lending.

Last week saw the clearest signal yet Beijing would lower its growth targets, with President Xi Jinping saying annual expansion of only 6.5 percent for the 2016-2020 period would be enough to meet its goals.

Authoritie­s earlier this month pledged to accelerate reforms following a key Communist Party meeting to plot the country’s path for the next five years, but

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