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.”


Golden Globe Race seek to rescue injured Indian sailor

The Australian Joint Rescue Co-ordination Center is working hard to assess and coordinate all possible options to rescue Abhilas Tomy. (goldengloberace)
Updated 23 September 2018
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Golden Globe Race seek to rescue injured Indian sailor

  • The Australian Joint Rescue Co-ordination Center is working hard to assess and coordinate all possible options to rescue Abhilas Tomy

PARIS: The organizers of the round-the-world Golden Globe Race said Saturday they were scrambling to rescue missing Indian sailor Abhilash Tomy, but admitted he was “as far from help as you can possibly be.”
Tomy’s yacht Thuriya had its mast broken off when it was rolled in a storm on Friday and the yachtsman suffered what he called “a severe back injury.”
The organizers described him as “incapacitated on his bunk inside his boat” and his yacht is 2,000 miles (3,704 kilometers) off the coast of Perth, Western Australia.
On Saturday, he managed to send a message saying: “Extremely difficult to walk, Might need stretcher, can’t walk, thanks safe inside the boat... Sat phone down.”
The organizers said on the race website: “The Australian Joint Rescue Co-ordination Center is working hard to assess and coordinate all possible options to rescue Abhilas Tomy who is as far from help as you can possibly be.”
Tomy, a 39-year-old commander in the Indian navy, is able to communicate using a YB3 texting unit but his primary satellite phone is damaged.
He has a second satellite phone and a handheld VHF radio packed in an emergency bag, but organizers said he was unable to reach it for the moment.
The organizers said they had urged him to try to get to the bag because it could be crucial in making contact with a plane from Australia and an Indian air force plane which might be able to fly over the area.
Given the distance from land, the planes will not be able to spend long in the area, the organizers added.
A French fishing boat was also heading to the scene “but may not arrive for a few days.”
The Golden Globe Race involves a gruelling 30,000-mile solo circumnavigation of the globe in yachts similar to those used in the first race 50 years ago, with no modern technology allowed except the communication equipment.
Tomy’s own yacht is a replica of Robin Knox-Johnston’s Suhail, winner of the first Golden Globe Race.