alibaba: Chinese “Single’s Day” shopping festival suppressed by technological repression

SHANGHAI: China held a subdued version of its annual on Thursday “single day“frenzied shopping, deprived of the usual boast about sales volume as the country’s e-commerce sector has maintained a lower profile amid a government crackdown on platforms such as Alibaba.
The largest shopping festival in the world has for years been accompanied by aggressive promotions and breathtaking hourly updates from industry leader Alibaba, which detailed steadily increasing sales figures equal to the annual GDP of many nations.
But there have been no continuous counts or triumphant comments from major platform executives since noon Thursday, and the whole thing has been virtually ignored by the state-controlled media, indicating that the former feverish sales hype could be a thing of the past.
The “Single’s Day” – so named for 11.11 – started more than ten years ago and for years has been a one-day, 24-hour event.
But Alibaba and its rivals have extended it to an extended promotion from November 1 to 11, while some retailers and platforms have offered discounts, special offers and pre-sales as early as October.
“Single’s Day” dwarfs the pre-Christmas “Black Friday” promotion in the United States and has become a carefully watched barometer of consumer sentiment in the world’s second largest economy.
The platforms operated by Alibaba and its closest competitor reported combined revenue of $ 115 billion last year.
But the usual buzz was toned down Thursday with ecommerce platforms holding their heads down due to government scrutiny.
The government has targeted alleged user data abuse and monopolistic business practices by online giants, but it also appears motivated in part by broader concerns that Big Tech has become too powerful and unregulated.
Alibaba had previously said hundreds of brands had enjoyed a stronger start since November 1 than the previous year, but did not provide any data.
An Alibaba spokesperson said the figures will only be announced after the event window closes on Thursday.
Government control has rocked big players like Alibaba, Tencent and JD, cutting billions of dollars off their stock values, but experts say the ruling Communist Party it’s not going to significantly hinder e-commerce.
The party is waging a long-term campaign to diversify China’s economy from over-reliance on government production, exports and investment, towards a more market-based and consumer-driven model.
The tech giants have helped a lot in this effort, and Chinese executives said the pandemic has further increased online shopping, in part by discouraging in-person shopping at crowded stores.
But if Thursday is any indication, “Single’s Day” could be a much quieter event going forward.
The government is pushing a new “common prosperity” theme that targets super-rich and excessive corporate power and espouses a fairer distribution of China’s economic gains.
The ruling Communist Party may view the aggressive “Singles Day” protests and the celebration of rampant consumerism as conflicting with these goals.
Big Tech’s troubles began late last year when the billionaire co-founder of Alibaba Jack Ma has launched unprecedented criticism of Chinese government regulators.
Company Fined $ 2.75 Billion, Authorities Postponed Record-breaking IPO By Its Financial Affiliate Group of ants, and other tech giants have been hit with fines and trade restrictions.
The government has specifically targeted practices used by Alibaba and such as banning merchants from selling their products on rival platforms and their use of algorithms to bombard consumers with recommendations for further purchases.
Last weekend, the government issued special guidelines for “Singles’ Day” reminding platforms that misleading claims about discounts or product effectiveness, manipulation of sales figures and the sale of counterfeit products were strictly prohibited.
Chinese state media reported less aggressive promotional activity this year.
“While the excitement remains, the smell of gunpowder among the e-commerce giants is significantly weakened,” respected financial news site said in a recent report.
“Single’s Day” normally generates big headlines in China, but Thursday was virtually ignored, with many of the major state media focusing instead on the 62nd anniversary of the founding of China’s aviation, which falls on the same date.


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