Asia Minute: China’s Boom Day for Online Sales

Nov 13, 2019

November is traditionally the month when many people start their holiday shopping. In the United States, retailers of all sizes are trying to push consumers to spend money — but the biggest online sales day of the year comes from Asia.

The day after Thanksgiving wasn’t always a day for Christmas shopping. Macy’s gets the nod for the first bargains offered on the day after Thanksgiving in New York, back in 1924.

By now, “Black Friday” has been joined by “Cyber Monday” and even “Super Saturday” – the last Saturday before Christmas. Not to mention “Amazon Prime Day” in June.

But in China, there is “Singles’ Day” — an annual sales fest for all things online. A couple of college students started it to celebrate singlehood — sort of a counterpoint to Valentine’s Day. It’s November 11 because that’s marked on the calendar by four one’s.

The Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba basically seized the day in 2009, and began running discounts.

This year, the company says it blasted out more than a billion dollars of sales in the first 68 seconds. By the end of the 24-hour event, Alibaba says it sold more than 38-billion dollars of products — a new record.

China’s official Xinhua News Agency called the results proof the country is moving up the consumption chain. That view was echoed by the South China Morning Post — which praised “a further opening up of the economy, as promised by President Xi Jinping.”

By the way, the parent company of the publisher of the South China Morning Post is Alibaba — the online platform behind the sales on “Singles Day.”