Shoppers in China broke records yesterday taking advantage of massive discounts offered by online retailers for Singles Day (11/11).
Alibaba Group, which owns China's two major e-commerce platforms Taobao and Tmall, recorded sales of over 30 billion yuan ($4.9 billion) by 9.20pm on Monday, smashing last year's record of 19.1 billion yuan ($3.1 billion).
Singles Day, which started out as a joke between friends at Nanjing University, has grown into one of the nation's major shopping events, eclipsing America's Black Friday in total amount of money spent. An anti-Valentines Day of sorts, retailers began offering Singles Day discounts to "lonely hearts" in 2009, and the holiday has snowballed since then. At midnight on Sunday, Tmall vendors slashed prices by 50 percent or more on products ranging from high-end electronics to fashion and makeup.
Premier Li Keqiang praised the people behind the massive sales: "Nine million online vendors [on Taobao] could mean another 10 million jobs," Li told Xinhua. "If we take into account [downstream] couriers and logistics sectors, it has created even more jobs."
[Image: A giant screen shows live sales figures at Alibaba HQ on Singles Day. Credit: Alibaba]