Chinese shoppers spend $139 billion during Singles’ Day fest

Nov 11, 2021, 4:23 AM | Updated: Nov 12, 2021, 3:48 am
CORRECTS THE TITLE OF LIU HUI - Liu Hui, Director of JD Consumption and Industrial Development Rese...

CORRECTS THE TITLE OF LIU HUI - Liu Hui, Director of JD Consumption and Industrial Development Research Institute, speaks in front of a display showing live sales figures for China's biggest online shopping day, known as "Singles' Day" at an empty hall of the headquarters of online retailer JD.com in Beijing, Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. China's biggest online shopping day, known as "Singles' Day" on Nov. 11, is taking on a muted tone this year as regulators crack down on the technology industry and President Xi Jinping pushes for "common prosperity." (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese shoppers spent $139.1 billion during this year’s annual Singles’ Day shopping extravaganza, breaking last year’s record even though spending slowed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Alibaba tallied 540.3 billion yuan ($84.5 billion) in spending over the festival that spanned Nov. 1 to Nov. 11, the company said Thursday, a growth of 14% compared to a nearly 93% increase last year.

Rival JD.com reported 349.1 billion yuan ($54.6 billion) in transactions this year, from Oct. 31 to Nov. 11, about a 28% increase compared to 32% growth in 2020.

The slowdown in growth for the world’s largest online shopping festival, which typically ends on Nov. 11, comes amid reduced marketing hype and a crackdown on the technology industry.

Singles’ Day has been viewed as the largest online marketing event of the year. In previous years, the festival was heavily advertised for weeks ahead of time with brands and merchants offering deep discounts to attract consumers looking for bargains.

But shoppers say deep discounts of what is also called “Double Eleven” are now a thing of the past and experts are predicting lower sales as the economy slows.

This year, Alibaba, the e-commerce platform that pioneered the online shopping festival more than a decade ago, decided not to showcase a running tally of its real-time gross merchandise volume (GMV) — defined as the amount of transactions racked up across its platform — on its site for the shopping festival, taking on a more muted tone compared to previous years of glitzy marketing campaigns.

Chinese regulators have cracked down on technology companies, investigating giants like Alibaba and food delivery firm Meituan over alleged anti-competitive practices.

Earlier this year, Alibaba was fined a record $2.8 billion for violating antitrust rules. Ahead of Singles’ Day, Alibaba, rival JD.com and Meituan were among companies asked to curb excessive marketing text messages sent to consumers during the festival.

Last week, 16 e-commerce platform operators — some of which are linked to Alibaba and Meituan — were also summoned by regulators in the southern province of Guangdong and warned over “unfair competition.”

Platforms are also reining in the marketing hype to align themselves with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s calls for “common prosperity,” which includes curbing excess and advocating for more equitable distribution of wealth and resources.

“The decision not to publish a live GMV tally suggests China’s major e-commerce platforms believe this consumption display is incongruent with current ‘common prosperity’ themes,” said Michael Norris, research strategy manager at the Shanghai-based consultancy AgencyChina.

“While not publishing a live GMV tally may appease local sensibilities, without careful management, it may spook foreign investors who are already concerned about Alibaba’s growth prospects,” he said.

Online retailer JD.com also did not publicly stream a running tally of sales this year. But it did hold a media event Thursday, where a counter showed that as of 2 p.m. local time shoppers had spent over $48 billion.

Although it was a common to see consumers take advantage of deep discounts in past Singles’ Day festivals to stock up on daily necessities, consumption habits have changed.

Demand is weaker amid the uncertainties brought on by the pandemic, and Singles Day is now competing with other e-commerce festivals throughout the year.

“2021 is a year of troubled times. There is the pandemic and various disasters, economic growth is slow and the stock market is not performing well,” said Hua Wei, a Beijing resident.

“These make people a little bit panicked. After all, you have a stronger sense of security if you hold onto your money,” she said. “I think people are also more rational now when it comes to consumption.”

Another shopper, Jiang Chen, said that he held back on impulse shopping this year, buying only what he needed.

“I don’t think it’s necessary to waste time and energy in order to save a little money, so the things I buy are what I need,” he said, such as snacks and fruit.

Jiang seemed happy with a lower key approach to the festival.

“I hope that there will be less exaggerated publicity and hype in future (Singles’ Day) sales, and that the discounts will be bigger,” he said.

Meng Xiaolu, a sales manager who lives in the eastern province of Zhejiang, said she spent most of her shopping budget for this month on Singles Day sales of cosmetics and clothes.

“Because of the pandemic, I’m not able to travel and take vacations, so all I can do is find some joy in online shopping,” she said. “I think shopping on Double Eleven has become a habit for young people.”

___

Photo captions for this story have been corrected to fix the title of the research institute director.

___

AP video producer Caroline Chen in Beijing and researcher Chen Si in Shanghai contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Gas prices are displayed at a Sunoco gas station along the Ohio Turnpike near Youngstown, Oh...
Associated Press

US inflation will likely stay high even as gas prices fall

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans may finally be catching a break from relentlessly surging prices — if just a slight one — even as inflation is expected to remain painfully high for months. Thanks largely to falling gas prices, the government’s inflation report for July, to be released Wednesday morning, is expected to show that prices […]
20 hours ago
A bicyclist rides past a barn with political banner on it as the sun rises on primary election day,...
Associated Press

Republicans to pick Senate candidate to challenge Blumenthal

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut Republicans were poised to choose their candidate for U.S. Senate in a primary election Tuesday that could signal where the state party is headed politically after years of backing moderates. The Senate race pits former state House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, a social moderate who supports abortion rights and gun […]
20 hours ago
Recent college graduate Liu Qian walks along a street in Beijing, Thursday, July 7, 2022. Liu is on...
Associated Press

China’s youth face bleak job market as COVID slows economy

BEIJING (AP) — Liu Qian, job-hunting with a new master’s degree, said two employers interviewed her and then said the positions had been eliminated. Others asked her to take lower pay. She is one of 11 million new graduates desperate for work in a bleak job market as anti-virus controls force factories, restaurants and other […]
20 hours ago
FILE - A man holds a sign urging increased access to the monkeypox vaccine during a protest in San ...
Associated Press

US will stretch monkeypox vaccine supply with smaller doses

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health officials on Tuesday authorized a plan to stretch the nation’s limited supply of monkeypox vaccine by giving people just one-fifth the usual dose, citing research suggesting that the reduced amount is about as effective. The so-called dose-sparing approach also calls for administering the Jynneos vaccine with an injection just under […]
20 hours ago
FILE - Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., speaks at a Memorial Day observance event on May 30, 20...
Associated Press

WA GOP House member who voted to impeach Trump concedes

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, one of two Republican members of Washington’s congressional delegation who voted to impeach Donald Trump, has conceded her reelection bid after being overtaken in late vote tallies by a GOP challenger endorsed by the former president. Trump had targeted the six-term incumbent and endorsed Joe Kent, a […]
20 hours ago
FILE - Vermont state Sen. Becca Balint, who is seeking the Democratic Party nomination to run for V...
Associated Press

Balint wins Vermont’s Democratic primary for US House

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The leader of Vermont’s state Senate, Becca Balint, won the Democratic Party primary on Tuesday for Vermont’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, meaning she could become the first woman and the first openly gay person to represent the state in Congress. In deep-blue Vermont, it’s likely the Democratic […]
20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
Chinese shoppers spend $139 billion during Singles’ Day fest