China Singles Day online shoppers spend almost $7.5 billion

BEIJING - Chinese shoppers spent a record 35.0 billion yuan (S$7.12 billion) at the country's biggest online marketplaces on Singles Day, their operator said Tuesday, after the festival created by e-tailers to persuade the loveless to console themselves with retail therapy.

November 11 - or 11.11 - was proclaimed as "singles' day" because of the number of ones in the date, with sellers promoting discounts to the nation's singletons as well as price-sensitive buyers, and it is now China's busiest shopping day.

Consumers snapped up everything from mobile phones to cars to diamond rings, reports said.

They paid 35.0 billion yuan on Tmall and Taobao, the two shopping platforms of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, up 83 per cent on last year, the company said in a statement.

That was more than 10 times the average daily turnover on the two virtual marketplaces last year, according to a research report cited by Chinese media.

More than 402 million users visited the two sites on Monday, double last year's number, Alibaba added.

"It was crazy buying stuff on Taobao during 11.11 - just like picking up things for free," said a user on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

Sales figures from other e-tailers are yet to be announced, but analysts estimated the combined value of transactions on the country's top 10 operators would exceed 80 billion yuan, the state-run Economic Information Daily reported.

Bestsellers ranged from mobile phones to insurance policies to sweaters and underwear, and one online auto seller has sold more than 13,000 cars worth two billion yuan by Monday afternoon, reports said.

According to the official Xinhua news agency, a woman identified only by her surname Huang paid five million yuan as a deposit at a Tmall store for a 13.3-carat diamond ring with a 20.5 million yuan price tag.