Alibaba enjoys record sales for Singles Day shopping extravaganza in China

The Chinese e-commerce titan Alibaba enjoyed record sales during its Singles Day shopping extravaganza, giving a much-needed boost to the firm after a torrid year in which it became the symbol of a government crackdown that hammered the country’s tech sector.

The firm said 540.3bn yuan (£63bn) was spent as China’s army of consumers went on a splurge despite a more low-key sales campaign after pressure from the government to tone down the aggressive promotions and rampant consumerism.

Combined sales with its industry rival came in at 889bn yuan, which was also a record and up about a fifth from last year.

Alibaba and reported strong sales of items such as electric appliances, electronics, pet supplies, and cosmetics and other personal-care goods. shares rose more than 4% in Hong Kong on Friday, although Alibaba was down more than 1%.

Singles Day – so-called for the 11.11 date – began more than a decade ago and for years was a one-day, 24-hour event on 11 November.

However, industry players expanded it recently into an extended promotion from 1-11 November, with many retailers and platforms offering discounts and pre-sales even earlier.

The shopping festival now dwarfs the US Black Friday spree and has become a barometer of consumer sentiment in the world’s second-largest economy.

Concerned that big tech was becoming too powerful and abusing its market dominance, the government has this year dramatically tightened regulation.

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The campaign has rattled investors, slicing billions of dollars off the market capitalisation of Alibaba – whose share has plunged about 30% this year – as well as JD, Tencent and other major players.

In e-commerce, the government has taken specific aim at alleged abuse of user data and monopolistic business practices by platforms, such as banning merchants from selling their products on rival sites.

However, the steadily rising consumer sales are also likely to be quietly welcomed by the government, which is moving to create a more modern consumer-driven economy, lessening the traditional reliance on manufacturing, exports and government investment.