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Alibaba, Rivals Conclude 'Singles Day' Friday: How Sales Are Shaping Up Amid COVID-19, Economic Setback

China’s biggest shopping day of the year — Singles Day — is just a day away but this time around, much of the fanfare is conspicuous by its absence.

What Happened: The Singles Day — a concept invented by Alibaba Group Holding Inc. BABA — is observed on Nov. 11 every year. The four “ones” in “11.11” is related to four sticks, a Chinese slang for bachelors.

The nearly three-week-long build-up to the event, falling on Friday this year, has been muted amid the renewed COVID-19 lockdowns in China, reported Nikkei. Alibaba moved forward the start of its events by four days, to Oct. 24, just to avoid competing with the announcement of President Xi Jinping‘s new leadership team, following the Communist Party Congress, said the report.

See Also: World’s Largest Apple iPhone Plant Hit With New Lockdowns In China: What You Need To Know

The top online sales host for Alibaba underplayed the sales he made on the first day of the Singles Day presales, according to the report, due to fears of backlash from the government, which is promoting common prosperity.

Slowdown A Trend? Gross merchandise value, or GMV, during the 2021 Singles Day rose 13% to 952 billion yuan ($131.38 million) in 2021, marking the slowest ever advance until then, Nikkei said, citing data from Bain & Co. These include sales by e-commerce platforms such as Tmall, JD.com Inc. JD, Pinduoduo Inc. PDD among others but excluded sales made through video platforms such as Douyin, it added.

GMV generated during the “618” shopping festival, pioneered by JD.com and held in June, was 583 billion yuan, up less than 1%, the report said.

Presales held ahead of the Singles Day from Nov. 1-7 showed cosmetics and skin care product sales falling 22.4% and 9.7%, respectively, on Alibaba’s Tmall. Sales of many other major categories saw anemic growth.

Sales from “Singles Day” and the “618” festival accounted for 12% of total online retail sales in China in 2021, the report said.

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