China’s Singles Day sales have dwarfed Amazon’s cyber Monday record and by Wednesday morning had raised $70 billion for the annual event.
Launched in 2009, the shopping extravaganza takes place every year in November. Originally it was billed by e-commerce giant Alibaba as an antidote to Valentine’s Day. In its first edition it was called Bachelor’s Day and celebrated people who are not in relationships.
Every year, Chinese shoppers set new records for spending. Last year, according to Alibaba, consumers spent $38.3 billion on their platforms despite an economic downturn and concern over the U.S. trade war, with the state-run media calling this a sign of China’s growing economic strength. This was an increase of 26 percent over the previous peak in 2018.
This year, the running total, which was announced shortly before the end of the event, showed that Alibaba had already sold 20 times as much through third-party vendors as Amazon did when it sold on the first day in October.
Singles Day typically generates a lot of hype and this year was accompanied by a live stream performance by singer Katy Perry.
This year, 3 million workers were needed to pack boxes and fill orders, which were transported by 4,000 airplanes and ships.
More than 340 different companies, including U.S. retailers Apple and Nike, achieved sales of 100 million yuan ($15.1 million). According to Alibaba, 13 brands recorded a gross goods volume of more than 1 billion yuan.
Although this was good news for the company after the COVID-19 closures threatened to dampen sales, China’s competition authorities this week announced proposals to combat monopolies in the sector.
Like other nations, China is reassessing the way it regulates Internet companies. Both the EU and the US have decided to investigate how Internet companies operate on their territory.
The Chinese proposals aim to provide guidance on how the country’s 2008 anti-monopoly laws will be applied to online retailers such as Alibaba and its rival JD.com. The plans identified areas where regulators could address issues such as information sharing and competitive pricing.
Despite the fact that neither JD.com nor Alibaba were directly accused of misconduct, their stock prices plummeted by up to 8% on Wednesday.
The antitrust challenge comes about a week after Alibaba’s financial technology-related Ant Group lost about one-tenth of its market value after regulators withdrew its IPO.