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Chinese state media blasts ‘worship of turnover’ after 11.11 fest

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The focus of China’s Singles’ Day shopping festival should shift from a “traffic and sales war” to one of science and technology, a state-backed newspaper said on Friday, describing the “worship of turnover” as incompatible with China’s new development path.

The article in the Securities Daily comes a day after the annual shopping blitz spearheaded by Alibaba Group, which recorded 540.3 billion yuan in orders over the 11-day event.

The newspaper said the event had achieved many years of record breaking sales, but had also given rise to practices such as spam text messaging of users, unfair competition and merchants faking discounts. The model had become one in which it was hard to achieve “breakthrough innovations”, the paper said.

By using low prices as a selling point, platforms and merchants were stimulating “low-level” consumption, which was in not in line with China’s goals to achieve high-quality development, it added.

“The ‘worship of turnover’ is not only unsustainable in terms of digital growth but is also inextricably linked to chaos,” the newspaper said.

It said that it hoped to see Singles’ Day become a festival for platforms and businesses to showcase innovative achievements, and eventually even higher pursuits.

“I hope that one day, China’s Internet giants will no longer focus on the business of mom-and-pop shops, but will be able to walk towards space in their own private rocket,” the article’s writer said, pointing to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ and Tesla founder Elon Musk’s rocket projects as examples.

Alibaba and JD.com did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Alibaba turned China’s informal Singles’ Day into a shopping event in 2009 and built it into the world’s biggest online sales fest, dwarfing Cyber Monday in the United States.

It toned down the marketing hype this year amid regulatory scrutiny, doing away with a rolling tally tracking transactions that had taken centre stage in previous years and said it was focused on sustainability.

Rival JD.com, which also holds its own Singles Day shopping event, similarly did not publish real-time sales data.

  • Reporting by Brenda Goh. Editing by Gerry Doyle, of Reuters.

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