Chinese consumers spend billions in ‘Singles Day’ shopping binge

A mascot for Tmall, an online shopping website owned by Alibaba, promotes Singles Day in Beijing, China, Monday, Nov. 6, 2017.
Updated 11 November 2017
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Chinese consumers spend billions in ‘Singles Day’ shopping binge

SHANGHAI: China’s smartphone-wielding masses unleashed billions of dollars in e-commerce spending Saturday as they rushed to snap up bargains on “Singles Day,” billed as the world’s biggest one-day online shopping festival.
Also known as “Double 11” for the November 11 date, the event launched in 2009 by e-commerce giant Alibaba kicked off at midnight and ended up shattering the previous year’s sales mark, as it does every year.
Alibaba said that by midday Saturday the gross value of sales processed by Alipay, its online payment system, had equalled the $17.8 billion logged over the full 24 hours last year.
The 2016 amount was itself a 32 percent increase over the previous year and equal to the annual economic output of Mozambique.
The yearly display of rising Chinese consumer spending power has become a key date for manufacturers and retailers in the country, accounting for a significant share of annual orders for many businesses.
Alibaba rivals such as JD.com and a range of retailers have joined in, with merchants slashing prices to move goods.
Five minutes after midnight, Alipay was processing 256,000 payment transactions per second, doubling last year’s high-water mark, Alibaba said.
“At 12:07:23 am, the number of payment transactions processed by Alipay surpassed 100 million, equivalent to the total number of payment transactions processed during 2012,” it said.
More than 90 percent of orders were placed via mobile, the majority on Alibaba’s main e-commerce platform Taobao.com.
More than half of China’s 1.3 billion people use smartphones, which have become central to daily life, used for messaging, shopping, news and entertainment, ordering taxis and meals, and serving as digital wallets for a range of point-of-sale purchases.
The day’s transaction volumes are pumped up by many Chinese delaying purchases of mundane items like rice and toilet paper to take advantage of cut-rate prices.
Alibaba launched “Singles Day” as the Chinese online answer to the late-November US “Black Friday” shopping rush.
It has capitalized on China’s burgeoning spending power, the Chinese love of a good bargain, and the growing national addiction to one-click smartphone payments.
E-commerce’s huge growth in China has put New York-listed Alibaba neck-and-neck with Amazon as the world’s most valuable e-commerce company, while also making Nasdaq-listed JD.com a Fortune 500 company.
Alibaba and JD stock have both doubled this year as revenues surged.

Alibaba is investing heavily in creating an entire user ecosystem encompassing cloud computing, artificial intelligence, automated stores using face-recognition, and is pushing into overseas markets under much-traveled boss Jack Ma, one of China’s richest men.
But environmentalists accuse Alibaba and other e-tailers of fueling a culture of excessive consumption and mountains of waste.
Greenpeace said “Singles Day” deliveries last year created 130,000 tons of packaging waste — less than 10 percent of which is recycled.
It said e-commerce is actually more carbon-intensive than brick-and-mortar shopping, calling “Singles Day” a “disaster for the environment.”
But the growth of Chinese e-commerce has proved a boon to hundreds of once-backward interior town and villages now dubbed “Taobao villages” after re-orienting their local economies toward manufacturing for online buyers.
Analysts say Alibaba will take “Singles Day” global as Chinese e-commerce growth rates are expected to slow in years ahead.
It already has a substantial stake in Lazada, an online retailer in Southeast Asia — a hot e-commerce battleground — and recently launched an electronic trading hub in Malaysia, its first outside China.
Alibaba said hundreds of millions of Southeast Asian consumers will be able to access Taobao this “Singles Day.”
“This is just the start. We will see tens of billions of dollars injected abroad (by Alibaba),” said Li Chengdong, a Beijing-based independent e-commerce analyst.
“It could end up dominating e-commerce in developing countries.”


Woman punches bear, gets help from dog to survive attack

Updated 15 December 2018
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Woman punches bear, gets help from dog to survive attack

  • The attack occurred in a rural area outside Muncy, Pennsylvania, roughly 165 miles (265 kilometers) northwest of Philadelphia
  • The attack began when she went outside with her dog around 6 p.m.

PENNSYLVANIA: A woman survived a mauling by a bear by repeatedly punching the animal and crawling into a bush as her Chihuahua-mix distracted the attacker.
Melinda LeBarron has broken bones, cuts and bruises and multiple bites after the attack outside her home in rural Pennsylvania on Wednesday evening, her son said. She remained hospitalized in critical condition Friday.
Her dog — fittingly named Bear — was also bitten several times and has a broken sternum and separated ribs.
“I’ll just put it this way — she’s very, very lucky to be alive,” said her son, Trent LeBarron, who described her as a tough person. “She was punching the bear and everything. Her right hand’s all swollen up from punching the bear.”
The attack began when she went outside with her dog around 6 p.m. When Bear the dog barked, Melinda LeBarron, a 51-year-old food prepper at a steakhouse restaurant, looked around to see what had startled the canine.
“The next thing she knew, she was on the ground getting slammed around,” said her son.
The black bear dragged Melinda about 80 yards (70 meters) through her yard, across a road, and into a thicket, while the dog tried to intervene, biting the black bear several times. Some of her clothes were ripped off in the process.
The attack left a trail of blood that relatives later followed.
“As she said in her own words, the bear wouldn’t show her no mercy at all,” Trent LeBarron said. “It wouldn’t stop.”
Eventually Melinda LeBarron went limp, and the bear took an interest in the dog, giving her a chance to climb into a small bush. She then threw a stick to distract the bear and finally made her way home to call a relative for help.
Bear the dog somehow got back into the home and was found whimpering beneath a bed.
“She’s stable now,” Trent LeBarron said. “She’s doing good, she’s actually doing very good. She has a long ways to go and a lot of lot of surgeries coming up.”
Before Melinda LeBarron was able to speak, she wrote on a pad to ask how her dog was doing.
“We asked her if Bear saved her life,” Trent LeBarron said. She nodded her head yes “so fast it was unreal.”
The attack occurred in a rural area outside Muncy, Pennsylvania, roughly 165 miles (265 kilometers) northwest of Philadelphia.
Wildlife officials told WNEP-TV they are trying to track the bear. Game Commission spokesman Travis Lau said his agency believes it is a sow with cubs and the attack occurred after the dog ran toward the bears.
Mike Levan, Melinda LeBarron’s neighbor and landlord, whose wife called 911, said a bear sow and four cubs were seen in the neighborhood all summer.