HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) – There were no fireworks from Alibaba’s Singles Day this year, and that’s just fine. The annual Chinese shopping fest was far more subdued than in the past, when staggering transaction volumes, celebrity-studded galas and other excesses were the norm. That says more about the country’s gloomy economic outlook than the $187 billion e-commerce titan.
The biggest omission this year is Alibaba’s final sales tally, or gross merchandise value. The company opted not to disclose the figure and said it was “in line” with last year’s performance, which saw roughly 540 billion yuan ($76.5 billion) in transactions over an 11-day period.
Assuming sales really were flat, that is unsurprising. Even before Covid-19, GMV growth was cooling, with transactions up 8.5% in 2021, compared to 26% a year earlier. Nor is it alarming. Singles Day was created in 2009 to win over online shoppers with discounts and promotions; these days, brands use it to clear inventory and experiment with new products. It has become far less important to Alibaba’s bottom line.
A scaled-back consumption frenzy is better for the environment too. Alibaba could use more boring Singles Days. (By Robyn Mak)
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