Alibaba promises major discounts ahead of China’s ‘Singles Day’ shopping event

By Brenda Goh

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – E-commerce giant Alibaba Group said it will be offering huge discounts as it gears up for its annual Singles Day shopping extravaganza – an indication that Chinese consumer confidence remains at a low ebb.

The event – which begins on Tuesday and despite its name now stretches over several weeks – will offer over 80 million products at their lowest prices this year, it said in a statement.

Alibaba also said that this year its Tmall marketplace for established brands and its Taobao site for smaller retailers will offer a 15% price reduction for some products in addition to the discount coupons usually offered.

Tmall will also compare prices on products in real time with other e-commerce platforms in China and tag products with the lowest price, it said.

China has experienced much slower-than-expected economic growth following the lifting of COVID-19 curbs late last year and job insecurity for many Chinese has thrust the country’s online platforms into a “value-for-money battle”.

There have been signs recently, however, that the economy is stabilising and retail sales rose 5.5% in September, ahead of expectations and accelerating from a 4.6% increase in August.

Alibaba did not disclose how much in subsidies and coupons it plans to offer in total this year but added that Taobao and Tmall had committed an “unprecedented” amount of investment.

Presales, when consumers can put down deposits on items, will begin on Tuesday and then purchases are made over two periods – the evening of Oct. 31 till Nov. 3 and Nov. 10-11 – which helps with managing the logistics of deliveries.

The company last year did not announce the sales tally for the event for the first time, saying only that the total amount was in line with 2021.

It has been toning down hype around the event as Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasises “common prosperity” – a push that seeks to eliminate growing wealth inequities and clamp down on what the Communist Party sees as excessive behaviour.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)