China Singles' Day Streamers
Tian Ming/VCG via Getty Images
  • Alibaba raked in a record 540.3 billion Chinese yuan, or $84.54 billion, in orders over Singles Day.
  • That's up 8.45% from last year – the lowest year-over-year growth rate in the event's history.
  • Chinese consumption is slowing as the government cracks down on everything.

Alibaba raked in a record 540.3 billion Chinese yuan, or $84.54 billion, in orders over Singles Day, the world's biggest shopping festival. That's up 8.45% from last year's shopping extravaganza – the lowest growth rate in the event's history.

It was the shopping festival's first single-digit growth year since the Chinese e-commerce giant created the event in 2009.

Alibaba sold products worth 498.2 billion yuan ($78 billion at today's exchange rate) over the 11-day shopping event last year.

Graph of Alibaba Singles Day sales over the years
Alibaba's sales over its Singles Day shopping festival have moderated. It was a one-day event before 2020.

The moderation comes as Chinese economic growth has slowed amid a relentless government crackdown.

This year, gone were the celebrations of unbridled consumption with a live counter tallying sales. Instead, the focus was on social responsibility and sustainability, with Alibaba highlighting environmentally friendly products and charity initiatives.

"Alibaba's 11.11 just set a new record, but it's looking beyond numbers," Alibaba's blog said, adding that sustainability and inclusivity targets should be taken into account too.

"In the early stages of 11.11, we focused on growth – the same way that parents would focus on a child's height and strength. But as a child becomes a teenager, the parents shift their focus to nurturing the child's sense of responsibility: the role he or she plays in society. That is what we're doing now," Alibaba's chief marketing officer, Chris Tung, said in the post.

Singles Day retailers also played it low-key this year amid Beijing's crackdown on everything from tech to wealth with President Xi Jinping touting a more equal society with "common prosperity."

"The 'worship of turnover' is not just unsustainable in terms of growth in numbers, but is also inextricably linked to chaos," said the state-backed Securities Times on Friday.

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