Singles’ Day has once again been a great success for Alibaba: in total, consumers bought 268 billion yuan (35 billion euros) worth of goods, setting a new record. However, criticism from environmentalists of such ‘sales splurges’ is growing.
544,000 orders per second
During the first hour of Singles’ Day, the Chinese e-commerce giant achieved a record turnover of some eleven billion euros, with consumers placing up to 544,000 orders every second, the Dutch public broadcaster NOS reports. At the end of the day, the total of all sales amounted to 35 billion euros, approximately a quarter more than last year.
The 'holiday' was created in the 1990s among students. In 2009, Alibaba also made it an online shopping holiday, offering great discounts "in order for singles to spoil themselves". In China, many consumers postpone large purchases of electronics to take advantage of this. Slowly but surely, the event is also gaining popularity throughout the rest of the world.
Environmental organisations are pointing to the ecological downside of such unbridled online consumption: the Chinese e-commerce sector is estimated to have used some 9.4 million tonnes of packaging materials last year. If no action is taken, this will rise to 41 million tonnes by 2025, Greenpeace warns. Only 5 % of the plastic used in the sector is likely to be recycled.