BEIJING — People from all over the world are impressed with online transactions on China’s “Singles Day”, which falls on Nov 11, as evidence of the global impact of China’s business activities.
The day, which was first celebrated at universities in China in the 1990s, has become the world’s biggest annual online shopping day -- nearly five times larger than Cyber Monday in the United States.
In 2014, China’s online shopping sales on the “Singles Day” nearly reached $10 billion, well dwarfing Cyber Monday with some $2 billion in sales.
The “Singles Day” also surpassed US Black Friday, a day that Americans go shopping after celebrating Thanksgiving Day, to become the world’s largest shopping day in terms of sales volume.
China’s e-commerce giant, Alibaba’s Tmall online marketplace on Nov 12 reported a sale of 91.2 billion yuan ($14.3 billion) on “Singles Day” shopping spree, a 60-percent rise from last year’s 51.7 billion yuan ($8.1 billion).
Alibaba Group also moved its count-down program from its headquarters in Hangzhou to Beijing to mark the day with a glitzy variety show.
The company hosted a four-hour TV show on the eve of the “Singles Day”, featuring not just top Chinese pop singers and movie stars, but also James Bond’s Daniel Craig and a cameo from Kevin Spacey, who greeted Chinese consumers as “President Underwood” from the blockbuster TV series “House of Cards.”
Those efforts appeared to have paid off. In the first hour and a half, Alibaba’s total gross merchandise volume exceeded $5 billion, while last year it took about 13 hours to achieve such volume.
More than three quarters of transactions were made on wireless devices such as smartphones and tablets, Alibaba data shows.
Cell phones became the most popular product, with a whopping 3.13 million sets sold on the day, followed by nuts, milk, honey, cars, apples, TV sets and watches.
According to Alibaba, 232 countries and regions with more than 5,000 overseas brands participated in the promotion. The United States, Japan, South Korea, Germany and Australia were the top five countries in terms of imported products.
Both retailers and policymakers are keen to see the boom of the “Singles Day” sales. China’s 13th Five-Year Plan released last week made it clear that consumption should play a fundamental role in China’s future economic growth.
“The rebalancing is already happening in China, given the steady rise of consumption as a share of GDP,” said Wang Tao, chief China economist at the United Bank of Switzerland.
“A spate of government policies such as improving social security, reducing tax burden and raising minimum wages have all supported consumption,” he added.
The purchases meant 467 million parcels need to be delivered nationwide. In all, the “Singles Day” will generate $760 million in shipments, according to government figures.
Over 200 banks and Alipay, Alibaba’s online payment service, processed 710 million transactions in 24 hours, peaking at 85,900 deals per second.
Alibaba President Ma Yun has said he hopes to turn the “Singles Day” into a global occasion.