A record number of UK shoppers took part in China’s Singles’ Day this year, but British retailers have warned against welcoming another discounting event into the retail calendar.
The value of transactions made on cards in the UK during Singles’ Day on November 11 was up 251% on 2014, according to data from payment processing provider Worldpay. The volume of transactions rose 307% year on year.
Marks & Spencer had its best ever day on Chinese ecommerce platform Tmall for the second year running, with sales increasing by 80% on last year. It declined to give the actual figure.
Jamie Powell, former managing director of Jonathan Saunders, is readying the launch of the Jack Russell Emporium, a new online department store set up on Chinese platform JD.com to take UK brands to China. He agreed that UK retailers are “unlikely to want another discount day in the calendar”.
“For retailers selling in China, it’s huge, but in the UK Christmas discounting already starts at the end of November with Black Friday; this would just bring it forward by another two weeks, which wouldn’t be good.”
Harrods chief executive Michael Ward dismissed the event, saying: “We don’t benefit from Singles’ Day as it’s largely an online experience.”
By the end of Singles’ Day, Tmall’s main rival Alibaba had broken its own records and generated $14.3bn (£9.4bn) in sales, up 60% on last year’s $9.3bn (£4.9bn). Alibaba chief executive Jack Ma has predicted it will become “a global shopping day for the US, Europe, anywhere in the world” within five years.
Meanwhile, JD.com said it processed more than 20 million transactions during the period.
Singles’ Day was created in 1993 as a celebration of people not in relationships, but was taken on by Alibaba in 2009 and turned into a consumer event with discounts similar to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.