Single’s Day: World’s Biggest One Day of Shopping Sets Record

Chinese consumers continue spending billions of dollars while shopping online for things from dog supplies to diamonds during Single’s Day, which is a once-a-year promotion that has ballooned into the largest e-commerce event worldwide.

The biggest giant in all of Chinese e-commerce, Alibaba Group, announced that sales by retailers on its many platforms exceeded the 130 billion yuan mark or $20 billion by early Saturday evening in an event that started midnight Friday.

In 2016, sales for all the platforms of Alibaba sold slightly more than $120.6 billion yuan, which as that time set a new record that has already been broken with much time to spare.

In comparison, shoppers in the U.S. in 2016 spent $5 billion online during Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday. Shoppers spent another $3.39 billion during Cyber Monday in 2016, which is the single largest shopping day online in the U.S.

Alibaba’s biggest rival in China, an online retailer, said its sales stood at $16.7 billion, although that tally cannot be comparable since JD tracks its transactions beginning November 1 through Single’s Day.

Beginning at midnight on Friday, frozen salmon, diamonds, beer, diapers, shoes, appliances, handbags and much more were shipped from the distribution centers at on trucks headed for places all across China.

China is the largest market for e-commerce in the world and the share of shopping online that represents all consumer spending increases each year.

An online consulting group forecasts that online spending will increase 20% per year, hitting over $1.6 trillion within 3 years, compared to a growth of 6% for offline retail.

Single’s Day was started during the 1990s by college students in China as a Valentine’s Day for those who did not have romantic partners.

Spending gives a big boost to the efforts of the ruling Communist Party to nurture economic growth based on consumer spending and lower the reliance on investment and trade.

China has over 731 million people who use internet, which is up by 6% from last year, show statistics released by the Chinese government.

Before the Single’s Day event is completed on Saturday, some estimates said total sales could reach to between $35 billion and $40 billion. The purchasing power of the Chinese, especially its growing middle class, has grown over the last decade and continues to fuel the country’s economic growth.