Singles’ Day sales break records despite trade war

By Wang Cong Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/11 0:10:08

Strong sales signal China’s unabated spending power: analysts

The stage is set for the 2019 Singles' Day shopping festival at Alibaba's headquarters in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province on Saturday. Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Graphics: GT

China's e-commerce platform Alibaba Group claimed new sales records for the Singles' Day shopping spree shortly after the world's largest online shopping event kicked off at midnight Beijing time on Sunday, offering another clear sign that Chinese consumers' spending power remains unabated, despite mounting internal and external downward pressures on the Chinese economy.

Alibaba, which turned a day - also known as Double Eleven - for Chinese youngsters to celebrate singleness into an annual shopping extravaganza, raked in its first 10 billion yuan ($1.43 billion) in sales after 96 seconds - faster than the 125 seconds last year - after discounts on everything from toilet paper to furniture to cosmetics took effect.

Sales figures will be upgraded throughout the 24-hour sales event. In 2018, Alibaba alone raked in total sales of 213.5 billion yuan, eclipsing combined sales for the US Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales events.

"This is one of the clearest pieces of evidence that consumption in the country remains stable and the economy is solid, considering all the difficulties over the past year," Cao Heping, a professor at the School of Economics at Peking University in Beijing, told the Global Times.

The Chinese economy has been facing persistent downward pressure amid a profound transition toward a consumption- and innovation-driven economy and a costly trade war initiated by the US. 

As such, consumption has become essential for the stability of the world's second-largest economy. In the first three quarters of the year, consumption contributed 60.5 percent of overall growth, with retail sales growing 8.2 percent year-on-year to 29.7 trillion yuan, according to the Ministry of Commerce

In another sign of China's unabated spending power, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced on Sunday that business deals worth $71.13 billion were inked at the just concluded China International Import Expo in Shanghai.

"As long as consumption is stable, there is no difficulty that can't be overcome," Cao said, noting that behind the huge Singles' Day sales lie increasing disposable income for households and an improving quality of life.

In the first three quarters of 2019, per capita disposable income in China was 22,882 yuan, up 8.8 percent year-on-year, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics. 

The strong Singles' Day sales results also offered a stark rebuke to a recent claim made by US President Donald Trump, who said on Saturday that "China very much wants to make a deal. They're having the worst year they've had in 57 years. Their supply chain is all broken, like an egg."

"The loudest are usually the most nervous. I think they know that they have made a huge mistake by launching the trade war with China because it has also hit their own economy very hard," Cao said.

Improved conditions

Apart from the huge sales, other positive developments were also seen as part of this year Singles' Day event, as regulators moved swiftly to prevent issues such as unfair competition, price manipulation and counterfeits, which were prevalent in previous events.

Last week, the State Administration for Market Regulation convened a meeting with representatives from, Alibaba and more than 20 e-commerce platforms and ordered them to refrain from activities that violate market rules and hurt consumers' interests.

"Over the past 10 years, many of the problems have been dealt with and the Singles' Day shopping event has become a key part of Chinese consumers' lives," said Liu Dingding, an independent analyst in the internet sector.

While many consumers rushed to get the largest discounts, others were participating in the event just for the fun of it. Each year, e-commerce platforms put up star-studded shows to promote the festival. This year, the famous US singer Taylor Swift performed for Alibaba's show on Sunday night, counting down to the event.

"I bought much less this year… maybe less than 10,000 yuan, but I still want to blend in with the Double Eleven," a Beijing resident told the Global Times, adding she bought cosmetics and some household supplies. "There are some very good discounts for products with good quality, so what's not to like?" said another consumer, who bought mostly small furniture and some clothes.

The event also provided a great platform for foreign products to reach more Chinese consumers through the country's massive e-commerce network, and many are taking advantage of the platform. This year, more than 22,000 international brands from 78 countries and regions participated in the sales event, according to Alibaba. Many US brands, including Apple, also participated in the sales event.
Newspaper headline: Singles’ Day sales break records

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