Taobao Mall cashes in on Singles Day

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Taobao Mall (Tmall), China's largest B2C marketplace, secured orders worth 3.36 billion yuan (US$519.4 million) during a Singles Day sale on Nov 11, 2011, said the website run by Internet giant Alibaba.

Taobao Mall cashes in on Singles Day.

Taobao Mall cashes in on Singles Day.

The website sold 936 million yuan worth of goods last year on the same day, the amount it achieved in just 10 hours this year.

Unattached Chinese women and men celebrate Singles Day on Nov 11 as the date is composed of the number "one", a number evocative of the Chinese word for bachelor - "bare stick". This year is viewed as particularly special as the year 2011 also ends in the festival's favorite numbers.

Although it started as a campus joke in the 1990s, the unofficial Chinese festival has in recent years evolved into a real one, a boon for businesses as savvy merchants kick off promotions in the hope of boosting sales during the traditionally bleak retail period.

"My Singles Day started with clicks of the mouse," said Wang Shanli, who lives in the eastern tourism city of Hangzhou.

Wang said that she began searching for bargains on Tmall a week ago and stored her favorites in her shopping cart so she would not waste any time snapping things up when the promotion started.

"The stuff you want to buy can sell out any time, so you cannot be late even by a second. This is so exciting - a war and a carnival at the same time," said Yu Xian, who also lives in Hangzhou.

The festival for single people has turned into a festival for online shopping, it would seem.

As for real malls, Singles Day is not the best time for sales promotion as it is still a workday, but it is different when it comes to online shopping, said Zhang Zhouping, a researcher at the China E-Commerce Research Center.

Online shopping has become the new engine of China's consumer economy as traditional retail industry remains sluggish, said Qu Weizhi, president of the China Electronics Chamber of Commerce.

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