Alibaba, the organizer of Singles Day, is breaking tradition by not releasing the final sales tally of this year’s shopping event. 

According to Bloomberg, the e-commerce giant only revealed that the gross merchandise value was the same as last year. At that time, the group reported total sales of 540.3 billion yuan ($76.1 billion). But as the Wall Street Journal pointed out, the gross merchandise figure in 2021 only rose 8.5% from the year before, the lowest growth.

Another tradition was broken this year as Alibaba skipped hosting any gala celebration. Past events saw celebrities like Mariah Carey, Taylor Swift, and Kobe Bryant walking on stage. 

Competitor JD.com, which launched the most significant discounts on Apple products during the event, also held back total sales figures. Instead, it only discloses that sales reached a record high and grew faster than average.

Launched in 2009, Singles Day was originally a one-day festival on November 11. The date grants it another name, Double Eleven. It subsequently became the world’s biggest bonanza in later years. Over the past two years, Alibaba has extended the shopping period into a weeks-long affair. 

This year, sales began in late October. The event was joined by around 290,000 brands, similar to last year. It also came out while China was amid an economic downturn when consumer confidence and employment struggled. 

Shanghai resident Charlotte Kong told the Journal that she decided to pass this year’s Singles Day. She was fired in September, and her current job does not offer enough security. Kong says, “I’m not spending money on frivolous things this year.”

According to AFP, nearly 20% of Chinese youth under 24 were unemployed as of October. And as Bloomberg cited from Beijing’s data, the third quarter’s gross domestic product only increased by 3.9%, while September’s retail sales growth of 2.5% fell from August’s 5.4% rise.

Singles Day also faces rising competition from Alibaba’s rivals, such as JD.com, Pinduoduo, and even TikTok’s Chinese twin Douyin. They are all hosting shopping holidays.

The Journal reported from a Bain & Co. survey that 69% of respondents stated they would make purchases on multiple platforms during the Singles Day sale period. It is a 13% rise from the previous year.

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