China to celebrate Singles' Day with whopping shopping spree

Alibaba hosts a large gala on the Friday before Singles Day.

Alibaba said that by midday yesterday, the gross value of sales processed by Alipay (支付寶), its online payment system, had surpassed the US$17.8 billion logged over the full 24 hours a year ago. More than 140,000 brands will participate this year, Alibaba said.

As tills shut at midnight yesterday, Alibaba's live sales ticker registered 168.3 billion yuan or US$25.4 billion, up 39 per cent from 120.7 billion yuan a year ago - more than double the 2016 gross domestic product of Brunei (US$11.4 billion).

This was 29 percent higher than 2016, when the online shopping company made $17.8 billion.

"In terms of scale, it just dwarfs any other event out there", said Mr Ben Cavender, Shanghai-based principal at China Market Research Group.

China's smartphone-wielding masses unleashed billions of dollars in e-commerce spending Saturday as they rushed to snap up bargains on "Singles Day".

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This loneliest of dates (one-one-one-one), which meant to resemble four solitary sticks, is when China celebrates its Singles' Day.

The event, now indulged in by all consumers whether with or without a better half, takes pride of place in the calendar of manufacturers and retailers in the country, making up a significant share of annual orders for many businesses.

An estimated 1.5 billion parcels will need to be delivered over the next week. There were 256,000 payment transactions processed per second by Alipay, Alibaba's Alizila news website reported. Alibaba's been trying to tell us all along, like all good friends do when they see the writing on the wall, but a record day of sales may just prove the point once and for all.

Combined with Amazon's acquisition of grocery chain Whole Foods, Alibaba's plans mark a broader trend of the e-commerce giants moving into brick-and-mortar retail.

Singles's Day far out ranks the entire Black Friday Weekend in terms of sales, previous year Single's Day sales were triple the combined total from Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

This year, the company saw consumers spending 10 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion) in 3 minutes after the 24-hour shopping spree kicked off on November 11, 2017, compared with 10 billion yuan in 6 minutes of Singles' Day last year.

  • Marlene Weaver