In this photo taken Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, shoppers react after taking part in a promotion ahead of Nov. 11 Singles day in Beijing. Chinese online shoppers hunt bargains on Singles Day, a holiday invented in the 1990s that has become the world’s busiest day for online commerce. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

In this photo taken Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, shoppers react after taking part in a promotion ahead of Nov. 11 Singles day in Beijing. Chinese online shoppers hunt bargains on Singles Day, a holiday invented in the 1990s that has become the world’s busiest day for online commerce. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

China’s Alibaba, JD report booming Singles Day sales

The creators picked Nov. 11 because the date is written with four singles

Chinese e-commerce giants Alibaba and JD.com reported more than $60 billion in sales Monday on Singles Day, an annual marketing event that is the world’s busiest online shopping day.

The day was a temporary relief to retailers that face fading demand as Chinese consumers tighten their belts, anxious over slowing economic growth and the tariff war with Washington.

University students created Singles Day in the 1990s as an alternative to Valentine’s Day for people without romantic partners. Alibaba adopted it as a marketing tool a decade ago.

Rivals including JD.com, China’s biggest online direct retailer, and electronics seller Suning joined in. The tactic has caught on in other Asian countries, too.

The creators picked Nov. 11 because the date is written with four singles — “11 11.”

On Monday, retailers offered discounts on goods from smartphones to craft beer to health care packages.

“Yesterday night, I was browsing past 11 p.m. Many of my friends around me were staying up till 2 a.m. to buy stuff,” said Zhu Yirun, a graduate student in Beijing.

Alibaba said sales by merchants on its platforms had risen to 255.2 billion yuan ($36.5 billion) by 11 p.m. after passing last year’s full-day total of $30.8 billion before 6 p.m. JD.com reported sales of 179.4 billion yuan ($25.6 billion) by mid-afternoon.

Alibaba kicked off the event Sunday night with a concert by Taylor Swift at a Shanghai stadium.

E-commerce grew rapidly in China due to a lack of traditional retailing networks and government efforts to promote internet use. The country has the biggest online population with more than 800 million web users.

Alibaba, JD.com, Baidu and other internet giants have expanded into consumer finance, entertainment and offline retailing.

Monday was Alibaba’s first Singles Day since its founder, Jack Ma, stepped down as chairman in September. He stayed on as a member of the Alibaba Partnership, a 36-member group with the right to nominate a majority of the company’s board of directors.

E-commerce has created some of China’s biggest fortunes.

Ma, 55, is China’s richest entrepreneur with a net worth of $39 billion, according to the Hurun Report, which tracks the country’s wealthy.

Colin Huang of Pinduoduo was No. 7 on Hurun’s list at $19 billion. Zhang Jindong of Suning was No. 15 at $14 billion and Richard Liu of JD.com was No. 28 at $11 billion.

Last year, Alibaba reported Singles Day sales of 213.5 billion yuan ($30.8 billion), or more than 13 times its daily average of about 16 billion yuan ($2.3 billion).

Suning said sales of smartphones and other electronics passed 1 billion yuan ($160 million) in the first minute after midnight. The company said later sales were up 86% over 2018’s Singles Day but gave no total.

Dangdang, an online book retailer, said it sold 6.8 million copies in the first hour.

Chinese online spending is growing faster than total retail sales but also is weakening as economic growth decelerates. Growth declined to a multi-decade low of 6% over a year earlier in the quarter ending in September.

Online sales of goods rose 16.8% over a year earlier in the first nine months of 2019 to 5.8 trillion yuan ($825 billion), according to official data. That was more than double the 8.2% growth rate for total consumer spending but down from an average of about 30% in recent years.

E-commerce made up 19.5% of Chinese consumer spending, compared with about 11% of spending for American consumers.

Yang Wei, a migrant worker in Beijing, planned to skip the online rush.

“I feel like the difference (in price) is not that big, and since everyone’s buying all at once, the logistics and delivery are slower,” said Yang. “I think that it’s actually better for me to buy when not everyone’s buying.”

Joe McDonald, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Snowfall warning issued for Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake and surrounding communities.
Snowfall warning issued for B.C.’s Interior

Between 10 - 15 cms of snow expected in the Prince George, Stuart - Nechako region

Fort St. James Secondary School announced a confirmed incident of COVID-19 exposure at the school. (Black Press file photo)
COVID-19 exposure confirmed at Fort St. James Secondary School

Northern Health will be following up directly with anyone who is identified as a close contact

RDBN board meeting. (Priyanka Ketkar photo/Lakes District News)
Thiessen and Parker re-elected to RDBN board

The board voted unanimously on Nov. 19

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

More than 60 cm of snow has fallen at Ulkatcho First Nation near Anahim Lake in the Chilcotin since a snowfall warning went into effect Thursday, Nov. 26. (Graham West photo)
VIDEO: More than 60 cm of snowfall in Chilcotin since Thursday, Nov. 26

Graham West of Ulkatcho First Nation captures the scene on video

Most Read