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Alibaba reports China's Singles Day is the world's biggest orgy of shopping

More than $9bn spent in a single('s) day splurge

Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the orgy of shopping that takes place after the US Thanksgiving holiday, has lost its crown as the biggest shopping event of the year to China's Singles Day, after Middle Kingdom buyers splurged over US$9bn consoling themselves for being sad and alone.

Singles Day, so named because of the date 11.11 containing four ones, started off as a bit of a prank in Chinese universities where singletons would gather together and have parties to try and meet new partners. Since then it has metastasized into a national buying spree where gifts to woo are bought, or people simply shop to cheer themselves up about their single status.

Online retailer Alibaba has been providing hourly updates on this year's celebrations and reports that by the end of the day Chinese shoppers had spent 5.7bn yuan ($9.3bn) in 24 hours on its servers. This amounts to 278.5 million orders shipped out in a single day.

"This year, more than 27,000 brands and merchants are participating in the event, including Costco, Muji, Desigual, ASOS, and The North Face, among others," Alibaba said in a statement.

"By expanding globally with the participation of AliExpress and Tmall Global, consumers in over 220 countries and regions will be able to select from more than one million products through online storefronts and e-commerce websites."

The sales weren't just good news for retailers either. Smartphone sellers will be pleased with how often people are using their products, since 42.6 per cent of all orders placed with Alibaba were for mobile phones.

The news should also be good news for Yahoo!. The firm still has a 16 per cent stake in Alibaba, which means the rest of Marissa Meyer's portal is technically worth less than nothing.

Of course, all that spending and money doesn't necessarily cause happiness. The Guangzhou programmer who reportedly spent over RMB 500,000 (around $82,000) buying 99 iPhone 6 handsets to woo his potential paramour got turned down flat – probably because the sensible lady concerned wondered what on earth she'd do with that many handsets when she could have had a nice car or down payment on an apartment instead.

But the success of this year's Singles Day is yet another sign of how much of an economic powerhouse the Middle Kingdom has become. ®


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