• Andrew Collins

‘Black Friday’ Sales Spread To China

Black Friday occurs every year on the day after Thanksgiving. Traditionally it has been a big event on the retail industry calendar and a boon for both retailers and consumers alike. It marks the start of the Christmas shopping season and last year raked in around $1.04 billion. Cyber Monday, immediately following Black Friday, rakes in a similar amount, topping $1.46 billion.

Similarly in Asia, Alibaba, mainly through its subsidiary offshoots TaoBao and TMall, has come to lead China’s surge in e-commerce. Often described as the Amazon of China, Alibaba raked in one trillion yuan (US$160 billion) last year.

One of the busiest times for Alibaba is the annual Singles Day, which falls on the 11th November. This time last year, Alibaba sold a record $3.1 billion worth of goods. The extent to which Alibaba’s profits have grown shouldn’t come as a surprise given its rapid rise since its inception 14 years ago.

Now, US retailers are looking to capitalize on the increasing number of affluent Chinese consumers. Over the past 4 to 5 years the demand for U.S. made products has grown considerably in China. Cultural, language and payment barriers have previously proved challenging for U.S. retailers wishing to enter China but by signing on to use Alibaba’s Alipay ePass service this looks set to be a thing of the past.

Indeed, in other parts of the world, Black Friday appears to be taking off. In the U.K., retailer Jon Lewis this year joined the fray of big companies cashing in on the day that traditionally marks the start of the holiday shopping season. Amazon and Asda “officially” started the trend last year along with other retailers and this year it has only grown bigger.

Given the proximity of Black Friday to Singles Day and its relatively low profile in Asia, success is not guaranteed. For now though, US retailers are treating the expansion of Black Friday into Asia as purely experimental but if China’s love of U.S. retailers is any indication, Black Friday looks set to be a winner.

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