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

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Angelique Houlihan gets her COVID-19 vaccine jab last week at the community-wide clinic. (Angelique Houlihan photo)
Vaccine clinic continues this week

Plenty of booking spots available

District of Houston
Council adds flexibility to spending decisions

Singles out road works as potential beneficiary

Filling potholes in Houston
Holes filled on Highway 16

Potholes aren’t restricted to District of Houston streets. Lakes District Maintenance crews… Continue reading

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller said it would be “very challenging and not very safe” for him and his teammates to play as scheduled on Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Canucks’ return to ice postponed again after players voice COVID health concerns

Friday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers was called off after the team met virtually with the NHLPA

B.C. Attorney General David Eby, Minister Responsible for Housing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. announces $2B for affordable, middle-income family home projects

HousingHub financing to encourage more developers, groups – with low-interest loans – to build affordable homes

Most Read