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No more splurge: Alibaba tones down ‘Singles Day’

It used to be touted as the world’s biggest online shopping festival. Last year Alibaba’s Singles Day racked up $74 billion in orders. But 2021 could see an end to the splurge. The online titan says it’s toning down the event. This year’s sales total might not even be flashed up on screen in the usual way. Coincidentally or not, the move comes as China’s big tech firms come under close scrutiny by Beijing. Officials have called on companies to focus on “common prosperity”, not just sales growth. And urged them to curb boardroom excesses. Last week regulators said they had told companies to limit spam in the run-up to Singles Day. Now Alibaba says its focus will be on “inclusiveness” and “sustainable development”, and supporting vulnerable communities. It says it will invest $16 billion by 2025 to support measures linked to “common prosperity”. In October it launched a version of its Taobao e-commerce platform tailored to senior citizens. For this year’s Singles Day it says it will also work with partners to reduce its carbon footprint and make charitable donations. It’s still set to be a big deal though. Alibaba says a record 290,000 brands will take part in the event, which begins on November 11.

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