China sees record online sales on Singles Day

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Internet giant Alibaba broke its own sales record of 9.3 billion dollars during China’s “Singles Day” 24-hour online shopping binge on Wednesday, defying fears of an economic slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy.

Total gross merchandise volume on Alibaba’s various online marketplaces matched last year’s total at around midday (0400 GMT) and passed 10 billion dollars shortly afterwards.

Alibaba, a collection of businesses that concentrate on online shopping, saw more than 70 per cent of those sales come from its mobile sites, showing that both online shopping and smartphone use have become ingrained habits among Chinese consumers.

The firm said it had sold over 2 million mobile phones online.

Alibaba rival and China’s largest online direct sales company, JD.com, said on its Twitter feed that by midday Wednesday it had received over 14 million orders and surpassed the site’s total number of orders on Singles Day last year.

JD.com has about one-quarter of China’s e-commerce market, according to analysts.

Singles Day started in the 1990s as a sort of anti-Valentine’s Day where people would celebrate being single. It is held on November 11 each year because the four 1’s in a row resemble singletons.

In 2009, Alibaba started promoting the day as an opportunity for single people to buy discounted goods online to treat themselves. Since then, other e-commerce companies have also offered their own Singles Day promotions.

Many consumers told dpa that they had been waiting for Singles Day to make their purchases.

“I have been saving up to make some electronic purchases on Singles Day, including a new laptop and camera,” said Michelle Yuan, a banker.

“I bought a new TV set, groceries and some vintage clothes,” said Jin Shu, who works as a retailer of women’s clothes.

Singles Day is also known as Bachelors Day because of the gender imbalance caused by China’s one-child policy and traditional preferences to have sons.

Although the government outlawed sex-selective abortion in the late 1980s experts say sex-selective abortion is the main reason why there are nearly 116 men for every 100 women in China.

China made a surprise announcement last month that it would abolish its one-child policy and allow all married couples to have two children.

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