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Singles’ Day sees record spending in China

15 November 2018 - 12:29 by Graham Miller

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This year the shopping event Singles’ Day managed to pry just under £24 billion from Chinese consumers, with safe shopping online generating vast amounts of revenue for retailers in the country.

This represents a 27 per cent increase in spending compared with the same period in 2017, according to the Metro.

Having begun life two decades ago as a way for unmarried people to celebrate their independence, the day has since risen and expanded to encompass all shoppers, ultimately eclipsing the likes of Black Friday and Cyber Monday in terms of e-commerce activity.

Economics expert Hong Tao explained that in most cases the craze surrounding Singles’ Day is self-perpetuating, with people choosing to make purchases just to feel like they are part of something bigger, even if they do not actually need the items they order.

Some sceptical industry observers also argued that in spite of the claims being made about major discounts on the day itself, it seems likely that a number of retailers artificially inflate their prices prior to Singles’ Day so that they can market the alleged savings without actually losing any cash in the process.

The idea of making a purchase as part of a kind of consumer celebration is an intriguing one, although in reality it is not much different to similar events in the West. The commercialisation of Christmas, Easter and other significant calendar dates means that billions of people feel compelled to buy products just for the sake of doing so.

Thanks to its vast population and growing middle class, China is perfectly positioned to continue dominating the world of online shopping. The momentum gathered by Singles’ Day could soon make it a feature of western retail, although retailers may be wary of switching their focus away from Black Friday.