Single-minded pursuit of retail therapy

Single-minded pursuit of retail therapy

BEIJING - In just 13 hours, Chinese shoppers grabbed online bargains worth more than twice the entire economy of Central American nation Belize - or a staggering 19 billion yuan (S$3.8 billion).

The figure was set on Monday - Nov 11 - which is also known as Singles Day in China.

This Chinese twist on Valentine's Day, created by online retailers to persuade the loveless to console themselves with retail therapy, has evolved into the biggest 24-hour period for online shopping in the country, with retailers slashing prices and shoppers clicking the mouse frenziedly.

Ms Zhang Jingnan, 24, was one of many who stayed glued to their computer screens as midnight on Sunday approached.

She had been saving for months as well as filling her shopping cart weeks before, in anticipation of the heavily-discounted prices promised by retailers.

But the flood of online shoppers brought the marketplace to a standstill, even in the wee hours.

"Many of my purchases could not go through at night so I woke up at 7am to try again. But some items I wanted like clothes and shoes were already sold out by then," she told The Straits Times.

Her eventual loot: an oven, a water purifier, a treadmill and three packs of face masks. The total cost was about 5,000 yuan, almost half her monthly salary. They would have cost over 6,000 yuan at the regular prices.

On Singles Day last year, Chinese shoppers spent more than 24 billion yuan - a record.

Average daily online sales last year came to 52 million yuan.

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