Alibaba’s Singles Day, the world’s biggest online shopping event, saw record sales of 540.3bn yuan (US$84.5bn) this year, compared with 498.2bn yuan in 2020.
The shopping festival now dwarfs the US Black Friday event.
However, this year’s Singles Day appears to have been a slightly more muted affair, as the 8.5% rise in sales was the slowest rate ever recorded for the shopping spree and the first time since its launch in 2009 that sales did not grow by double digits.
The slowdown in sales growth comes amid a crackdown by Chinese authorities on the country’s technology industry to force it to compete fairly and contribute more to society.
Earlier this year, Alibaba was slapped with a record fine of US$2.8bn by Chinese regulators over market abuse practices.
In addition, China’s economic recovery is showing signs of slowdown. According to official figures, the world’s second-largest economy grew 4.9% in the July to September quarter from a year earlier, below market expectations.
In a statement, Alibaba highlighted its focus on social responsibility and sustainability for this year’s Singles Days, which the Chinese e-commerce giant refers to as the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival.
“This 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, we delivered steady and quality growth that is a reflection of the dynamic Chinese consumption economy,” commented Alibaba vice president Yang Guang.
“We also leveraged the power of 11.11 as a platform to fulfill our social responsibility. This year’s festival was a meaningful milestone as part of our commitment towards building a sustainable future.”
The group said a record 290,000 brands took part in the event, of which 65% comprised small and medium-sized businesses, manufacturers from industrial belts and new brands. Sales of agricultural products from less developed regions grew 20% year-over-year, it noted.
It also said that the use of renewable energy had reduced carbon emissions during the event by more than 26,000 tons.