Published: Mon, November 12, 2018
Finance | By Cynthia Curry

China's annual shopping frenzy shatters records again

China's annual shopping frenzy shatters records again

The Twitter-like Weibo platform was blanketed with Singles Day-related posts on Sunday, from users proudly proclaiming they had resisted the shopping urge this year to those who cheerfully listed an array of mundane purchases.

While the company surpassed last year's sales just before 4:00 p.m., the rate is slower than last year when it broke the 2016 record around four hours earlier at midday.

The Chinese event was originally a novelty student holiday to celebrate being single, countering Valentine's Day, but has since grown into a month-long online shopping festival that peaks with a 24-hour sales frenzy on November 11.

New Zealand was the ninth-best performing country for sales on Singles' Day, up from 14th place in 2017, and ranked out of 230 countries and regions.

Once a celebration for China's lonely hearts, Singles' Day is now a barometer for the country's consumers.

In the hours leading up to the shopping event, Alibaba's video streaming platform Youku hosted a gala countdown to mark the festival. They are also integrating their products with smart-home offerings.

The biggest spenders were from Shanghai, where this year's Singles' Day gala was held, followed by those in Beijing, Hangzhou and Guangzhou.

Taking place on the 11th day of the 11th month, Singles' Day - or 11.11 as it is commonly known in China - is fast becoming a calendar fixture for many New Zealand brands and retailers.

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"That trend is not going to stop, trade war or no trade war".

"We have our own e-commerce platform with Chinese team in Shenzhen", says Bodyguard Pharm CEO Sebastian Kraus.

Alibaba kicked off this year's sales with a gala event that featured US singer Mariah Carey, a Japanese Beyonce impersonator and a shoe-shopping-themed Cirque du Soleil performance. It started as a spoof anti-Valentine's Day event celebrated by single Chinese university students in the 1990s.

Will Singles Day keep on growing? The current chief executive will take over as schairman next year, Alibaba announced in September.

"For sure every year the number is getting bigger and bigger, and people are always asking Daniel what is the ceiling of this and can you still grow so fast", Zhang said. While Amazon does not release Prime Day sales figures, total online sales are estimated to have topped $US4.2 billion over the company's 36-hour Prime Day event in July 2018, according to Wedbush Securities Inc. analyst Michael Pachter.

"Having said that, there are more consumers who still enjoy shopping at Double 11 than those that don't", he said. His Hangzhou-based company also uses the occasion to test the limits of its cloud computing, delivery and payments units.

It comes as the company is grappling with a weaker sales outlook amid rising trade tensions between China and the United States that have taken a bite out of China's economy.

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