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Alibaba employees attend this year’s Singles Day celebration

Alibaba’s Singles Day online shopping promotion is a huge success in China.

However, this year has seen a more measured approach as Beijing clamps down on companies and slows economic growth.

The 11-day event saw a 8.5% increase in sales, its slowest growth rate since 2009 when it launched.

However, customer spending still hit a fresh record high of 540.3bn yuan ($84.5bn; £63.2bn).

Alibaba Singles Day’s sales this year, also called the “11.11 Global Shopping Festival”, failed to grow by double digits year over year.

Rui Ma, a representative of Tech Buzz China told BBC that it was probably not so great considering the market expected to grow by almost 12%.

They’ve already taken advantage of this holiday to the extreme. “This is already an enormous number and it’s difficult to show growth,” she said.

This is against the background of China’s recent rapid actions to enforce tougher rules for internet companies.

Beijing has been reluctant to enforce regulations for years, ensuring that technology companies are fair and contributing more to the society.

Alibaba was the focus of the investigation as it received a $2.8bn record fine following a probe that found it had been abusing its market position over many years. The company stated it also intended to change its business practices.

Protocol, a technology website, said that Shen Lu told BBC the Singles Day this year was all about improving company image. “Alibaba is trying present themselves as a company with social responsibility and telecommunications.”

She stated, “They’re showing them they respect regulations and are fitting in the general political environment.”

This strategy brought more awareness to social issues than in previous years. It included eco-friendly products as well as campaigns that raised money for worthy causes.

For instance, during a live stream that lasted three hours viewers were encouraged to click the “like” button and raise money for an Elephant Reserve in China’s Rural Southwest.

Ms. Shen said that online shoppers may be looking to find new options for shopping: “It’s been 12 years since Alibaba introduced the Singles Day shopping event.”

She said, “It was so hyped years ago, but it’s not exciting for Chinese shoppers anymore.”

McKinsey Consulting has identified live streaming shopping as one such new approach. It is expected that this will be the future of Chinese online sales.

According to reports, last month two Chinese celebrities online selling celebrity goods made $3bn within 12 hours.

Slowing growth

As China’s economy recovers, consumers may be more cautious about making unneeded purchases.

Official data show the growth rate of the 2nd largest economy, which was 4.9% higher than the previous year.

This was also the slowest rate of growth in one year, and it was worse than what analysts predicted.

The economy is under pressure from power shortages, Covid-19 new infections and concern about its property market.


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