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China to celebrate Singles' Day with whopping shopping spree

China to celebrate Singles' Day with whopping shopping spree

In 2016, $17.8 billion was taken in gross merchandise value over the full 24 hours - itself up 32 percent from 2015 and roughly equal to the annual economic output of Mozambique.

Singles' Day now marks the start of a 24-day shopping festival. The 2017 Singles Day sale is already over $3 billion ahead. Alibaba introduced the Single's Day shopping event in 2009.

For this year's festival, Alibaba has employed a "new retail" strategy to bring together the online and offline shopping experiences.

Also known as "Double 11" for the November 11 date, the event launched in 2009 by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (November里巴巴) started at midnight and ended up shattering the last year's sales mark, as it does every year.

Joe Tsai, co-founder and vice-chairman of Alibaba Group, told 700 reporters from all over the world in Shanghai that a total of 140,000 brands are taking part this year, up 40 per cent from last year. Alipay processed 1.5 billion payment transactions in total, up 41% from 2016, and processed 256,000 transactions per second at peak. The day of shopping brings in more sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined in the US. The Sixth Tone reports that Chinese retailers traditionally put a limit on how many items you can put in your online shopping cart to help "ease operations", encouraging buyers to put in one purchase order rather than multiple transactions that require more processing.

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But environmentalists complain of ecological harm, accusing Alibaba and other e-commerce companies of fuelling a culture of excessive over-consumption and mountains of waste.

Alibaba hosts a large gala on the Friday before Singles Day.

Greenpeace said "Singles Day" deliveries a year ago created 130,000 tonnes of packaging waste - less than 10 percent of which is recycled. Market research experts say the massive growth is attributed to retailers competing for a share of consumer spending in China's growing economy.

It said e-commerce is actually more carbon-intensive than brick-and-mortar shopping, calling "Singles Day" a "disaster for the environment".

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