After 24 hours of frantic purchases and weeks of advertising and promotions before it, the Alibaba Group announced that its sales reached a new high on Singles Day, the Nov. 11 shopping festival that the Chinese e-commerce giant began nearly a decade ago.
China’s largest online shopping company began the country’s biggest shopping day with its typical ostentation. During its Saturday night gala event in Shanghai, many celebrities were featured, including the singer Mariah Carey, the retired basketball star Allen Iverson and Miranda Kerr, the Australian supermodel. A Chinese girl group even performed a song, titled “Wanna Buy Wanna Buy” as backup dancers pushed shopping carts bearing the logo of Aldi, the German discount grocer.
By midnight on Monday, Alibaba announced it collected $30.8 billion in sales the day before, as measured by its own metric, gross merchandise value, which clearly topped last year’s amount of $25.3 billion.
While sales seem to be increasing with Alibaba, all around China is “gloom and uncertainty”, as the New York Times reports. Economic growth throughout the country is beginning to slow, while the hundreds of millions of middle-class shoppers seem to be clenching onto their pocketbooks. The tariff fight with the United States is causing a situation not only over trade, but over China’s future writ large. Alibaba cut its sales forecast this month by nearly 5 percent for the year, ending in March, citing the unstable economy and the trade war.
Meanwhile, young Chinese shoppers seem to be less enthused this year about celebrating manic consumerism. Yang Sun, a 26-year-old from the northern city of Xi’an, said that the Singles Day discounts were appealing and unable to persuade her to wait all year to purchase the items she desired. While Wang Xin, 24, an engineer in Shanghai, said he had rediscovered the joys of shopping offline.
“Singles Day just doesn’t hold that much appeal for me,” Mr. Wang said.