China: Consumerist fever for “Bachelor’s Day”

At least 15 billion euros worth of transactions in half a day: the Chinese rushed Saturday on the online trading platforms for “Single Day”, a monster sale transaction that once again frightened the counters.

At midnight China time (16:00 GMT on Friday), Internet users rushed to their phones or computers to take advantage of the discounts offered during this event launched in 2009 by Alibaba, the national giant of Internet sales, and imitated since then by all the rival platforms.

Like the American “Black Friday”, 11 November – celebrated as the “day of singles” because of the succession of “1” in the date– is for Alibaba and its competitors the opportunity to massively boost their sales with great reinforcement of promotions… while inflating the business of the booming parcel delivery sector.

By mid-day on Saturday, Alibaba said it had recorded nearly $18 billion in transactions on its platforms since midnight via its Alipay electronic payment system.

This is a staggering figure that already surpasses last year’s record of 17.8 billion for the entire day, which was already a 32% jump over a year. This is equivalent to Mozambique’s annual GDP.

While more than 600 million Chinese own a smartphone, some 91% of the transactions on Alibaba’s main platform, Taobao, were carried out via mobile phone.

The event is considered a key barometer for gauging the evolution of the sector. Electronics, breast milk, rice, clothing, furniture, cosmetics… no segment is forgotten by monster sales.

Alibaba — which does not sell the products offered on these platforms by third parties, individuals or companies — is taking full advantage of the explosion of online commerce in China: during the quarter July-September, its turnover has increased by 61%.

Its performance on the New York Stock Exchange, where it is listed, places it shoulder to shoulder with the American giant Amazon as the world’s largest e-commerce value provider.

China’s number two in the sector, JD. com, also enjoyed Saturday’s consumer frenzy: on the first hour after midnight, it saw its sales of fresh food products swell by 350% over a year, and those of breast milk multiplied by five, according to a spokesman.

For Cheng Huaibao, the 28-year-old owner of a bunk-bed factory in Jiangsu (east), the “Single Day” represents a sixth of annual orders in 24 hours. Its village is one of the more than 1,300 “Taobao villages” living from the rise of online orders.

For the occasion, we offer countless discounts, and almost no benefits,”he told AFP,”but it’s hard to escape. “We’re just glad to be part of it.”