Chinese consumers spend billions in ‘Singles’ Day’ shopping spree

A big screen shows the online sales for e-commerce giant Alibaba surpassed 100 billion yuan or $14 billion at 01:03:59 after the Nov. 11 shopping festival started midnight in Shanghai. (Chinatopix via AP)
Updated 11 November 2019

Chinese consumers spend billions in ‘Singles’ Day’ shopping spree

  • E-commerce giant Alibaba said the first $1 billion spent on its platforms was reached in just 68 seconds
  • The promotion, now in its 11th year, kicked off early with Chinese bargain-hunters snapping up everything from electronics to clothing

SHANGHAI: Chinese customers spent billions of dollars during the opening hours of the country’s annual “Singles’ Day” frenzy Monday, the world’s biggest 24-hour shopping event that was kicked off by US megastar Taylor Swift.
E-commerce giant Alibaba said the first $1 billion spent on its platforms was reached in just 68 seconds.
The total gross merchandise volume settled through its payments platform Alipay hit 100 billion yuan ($14.3 billion) within 63 minutes and 59 seconds — 43 minutes ahead of last year’s pace.
The promotion, now in its 11th year, kicked off early with Chinese bargain-hunters snapping up everything from electronics to clothing and housewares via Alibaba and other competing platforms.
The event is considered a useful annual gauge of consumer sentiment in the world’s second-biggest economy.
China is in the midst of a long-term slowdown, further exacerbated by the trade war with the United States, but retail sales have remained a bright spot.
Singles’ Day, also called “11.11” for the date on which it is held, was originally set aside as an unofficial day for China’s unmarried.
Alibaba kicked off the event with a glitzy gala show in Shanghai, headlined this year by US Grammy-winner star Swift, as it counted down to the start of shopping at midnight.
But Alibaba, based in the eastern city of Hangzhou, latched on to it a decade ago as a shopping promotion akin to the late-November US “Black Friday” retail crush.
Other online platforms and Chinese retailers have tapped in as well.
Capitalizing on the Chinese consumer’s embrace of e-commerce and one-click smartphone payments, it has proven a success, with Alibaba regularly beating its own sales volume mark.
The full 24-hour tally last year was $30.7 billion, another record for Alibaba, but the pace of growth slowed from previous years.
US-listed Alibaba earlier this month said the company’s sales revenue remained robust in the most recent quarter, ending on September 30, but that growth had slowed to 40 percent compared to 54 percent in the same quarter last year.
This year’s Singles’ Day is Alibaba’s first without co-founder Jack Ma.
Ma stepped aside as leader of the Alibaba Group in September after 20 years in which the charismatic former English teacher’s e-commerce company helped unleash the power of Chinese consumer spending.
Today, Alibaba has more than half the domestic e-commerce market and is among the world’s most valuable companies.
The firm is hoping to raise up to $15 billion in a Hong Kong IPO, a report said last week, which would be the city’s biggest listing for nine years.
Environmentalists, however, accuse Alibaba and other e-tailers of fueling a culture of excessive consumption and adding to a growing national problem of overflowing waste, as 11.11 deliveries create mountains of discarded packaging.


Crown prince highlights key ways Saudi budget 2020 will contribute to Vision 2030

Updated 5 min 58 sec ago

Crown prince highlights key ways Saudi budget 2020 will contribute to Vision 2030

  • The budget for the coming year reflects and reinforces the commitment to implement the reforms

RIYADH: After King Salman announced Saudi Arabia’s budget for 2020 on Monday, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman highlighted some of its key elements and their implications, along with his thoughts on the ongoing implementation of economic reforms in the Kingdom.

He said that the government’s economic transformation of the country is progressing steadily in accordance with Vision 2030. The budget for the coming year reflects and reinforces the commitment to implement the reforms, plans and programs designed to help achieve this, he noted, and sets specific goals in a number of areas to help create a vibrant society, a prosperous economy and an ambitious homeland.

The crown prince added that the government is working to improve the quality of life in the Kingdom by developing and diversifying the economy, improving job opportunities and enhancing government services in terms of financial and economic stability, which is the main pillar of sustainable economic growth.

He also pointed out that the economic and structural reforms implemented during the past three years are having positive effects on the country’s financial and economic performance. The Kingdom has recently achieved remarkable increases in real GDP growth rates in the non-oil sector, and the government has encouraged the private sector play an important role in the economy, the positive results of which include significant growth in the business sector, the crown prince added. The government has also implemented a number major projects in vital sectors and launched activities that will help to achieve economic growth goals and create job opportunities, he said.

Crown Prince Mohammed stressed the importance of engaging with the private sector as a major and vital partner for the development of the Kingdom. He also noted the continuing program of reforms by the government designed to develop the business sector and create an attractive environment for investors to contribute to economic growth. This has helped to greatly boost the Kingdom’s ranking on international indexes that measure competitiveness and ease of doing business, he added.

“We aim to create an attractive investment environment that contributes to directing the national economy toward broad prospects of diversification, growth and prosperity,” the crown prince said. “The government will continue to move forward with implementing the stages of economic transformation and will progress with diversifying the economy’s productive base while maintaining financial sustainability and providing wider opportunities for a better future for the current and future generations.”

He stated that the government has a clear vision, fixed goals and explicit plans, and is working on implementing them while maintaining financial and economic stability as an essential pillar of sustainable economic growth.

“Financial and economic results and indicators confirm that we are progressing positively,” he said. “We constantly review and update the policies, procedures and programs implemented to ensure their effectiveness and to rectify their course whenever the need arises, in order to achieve the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, taking into account the global financial and economic conditions and what is in the interest of our homeland and citizens.”

The 2020 Saudi budget has been prepared in light of a global economic atmosphere characterized by challenges, risks and protectionist policies, said Crown Prince Mohammed, which require flexibility in the management of public finances and strengthening the ability of the economy to face the challenges and risks.

“We aim, through this budget, to benefit from the programs that were achieved and rely on them to maintain a balance between economic growth and the sustainable financial stability that guarantees this growth,” he said.

The crown prince noted that financial-control policies and the development of public financial management and its efficiency have contributed to the continued reduction of the budget deficit. This is expected to fall to about 4.7 percent of GDP in 2019, compared with 5.9 percent in 2018 and 9.3 percent in 2017. This confirms the success of ongoing efforts to ensure financial sustainability, and progress in implementing projects to improve the private sector, he added.

He also confirmed that the 2020 budget continues to support programs that contribute to achieving Vision 2030. This includes the financing of major projects, helping to develop medium, small and micro enterprises, and supporting entrepreneurs. These are some of the most important engines for economic growth, which will help to diversify the economy and open up new fields for investment and employment, he added

The budget includes reviews of some of these programs and schedules to ensure they reach their goals, Crown Prince Mohammed said, and the continued development and modernization of government infrastructure and services. He also stressed the government’s focus on improving the efficiency and quality of spending, to make the best use of state resources to achieve the highest possible social and economic income.

He highlighted the recent launch of oil company Saudi Aramco as a major step forward for the Kingdom, and his support for enhancing the role and participation of the private sector in the nation’s economy. He noted that opportunities for the private sector will continue to increase, enhancing its role in the growth and diversification of the economy and in creating job opportunities in the medium and long terms.

The crown prince also pointed out the part played by the Public Investment Fund and the National Development Fund in achieving Vision 2030, as the local and external investment mechanisms and the growth arm of the local economy, which are also contributing to the diversification of the economy and income sources. These are among the most important strategic goals of Vision 2030, he said.