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Americans’ record $1 billion online binge on Black Friday is nothing compared to Chinese e-commerce

AP Photos / Eugene Hoshiko
A Singles Day event in Shanghai: Your gift is in the mail. Can I buy you a drink?
By S. Mitra Kalita
AsiaPublished Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

US online sales on Black Friday crossed the billion-dollar mark this year. But that record for the day after Thanksgiving pales next to China’s Internet buying binges, technology entrepreneur Kai Fu Lee writes on LinkedIn today.

Just a few weeks earlier on 11/11, China celebrated Singles Day, a matchmaking holiday begun in the 1990s where young people exchange gifts. It’s turned into a boon for e-commerce as companies have launched discounts and promotions to get Chinese shoppers buying online. (China has the largest number of internet users in the world.) This year, sales exploded, with one Chinese company selling appliances and electronics reporting 20 times as many orders in the days leading to Singles Day than it had a year earlier. On the day itself, total online sales revenue was a “whopping 30 billion yuan ($4.84 billion),” writes Lee, who was head of Google China (back when it existed on the mainland) and now runs Innovation Works, a Chinese Internet investment firm and startup incubator.

He concludes: “This phenomenal ‘Black Friday’ number shows Chinese users are now ready to leap ahead as big spenders too!”

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