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Singles Day in China kicks off as COVID, the bite of a domestic crisis | Business and Economy

Beijing, China – For Li Bingwen, 33, this year’s Singles Day promises to be a short affair. An Shanghai office worker will not be able to open any of the items he ordered on November 11 until he has completed 14 days of solitary confinement.

On a business trip, Li isolated himself in a hotel more than 400km away from his home after authorities found few cases of COVID-19 in the surrounding area.

“I have a lot of green rules and the results of my nucleic acid tests are good,” Li told Al Jazeera, expressing his displeasure with the high-risk government regulations.

Although Li is not going to buy things that are associated with many of his people, he is planning to take advantage of the low prices.

“I just buy my friends’ annual gifts or football jerseys,” Li, who asked not to be named, said.

Singles’ Day, the world’s biggest event, is taking place under an uncertain cloud this year as the recent epidemics of COVID-19, power outages and a major stock market threaten to reduce consumer spending.

Originally created by Chinese students as a substitute for Valentine’s Day for singles, the “Double 11” over the past 10 years has transformed into a consumer-oriented celebration. Internet empire Alibaba held its first event in 2009 to take advantage of the e-commerce segment in China, with only 12 nations participating in the decentralized war.

China has been battling an explosion of COVID cases in recent weeks [FILE: EPA-EFE]

Last year, Alibaba raised 498.2 billion RMB ($ 78bn) in the 11 days surrounding the event – the highest gross domestic product (GDP) of Bulgaria. In all, about four billion packages were delivered to customers.

More than 290,000 companies believe they are taking part in the online shopping festival this year, with nearly 14 million discounts and special offers.

Although COVID-19 cases are heavily regulated in China, the epidemic continues to wreak havoc on human lives. The number of COVID cases in recent history in China on Wednesday exceeded 1,000, according to the National Health Commission. Officials also reported 39 cases Wednesday, down from 54 a day ago and 62 Monday.

Thanks to the COVID-zero regulation, government officials have responded even to small groups of diseases with strong globalization and restrictions, and put businesses and consumers at risk.

As China battled the worst spread of COVID-19 since the outbreak, retail sales in August grew by 2.5 percent, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, due to lower market expectations and a sharp decline from 8.5 percent last month.

Home problem

In September, the state-run Global Times quoted Wang Jun, an economist at Zhongyuan Bank, describing food cuts as a “major weakness” in restoring China’s economy after the epidemic.

Last month, Chinese journalists Caixin warned that losing home buyers could lead to a long-term “COVID” problem, citing, among other problems, a housing crisis that targets Evergrande giant.

Up to 80 percent of China’s household income is put in place, making the health of the real estate market even more important in people’s pockets. Domestic spending in China only accounts for 39 percent of GDP, compared with 55 percent or more in most developed countries, according to government research.

After a rapid recovery in 2020, economic growth declined in the third quarter to 0.2 percent, which appeared to be the weakest in a single year. GPD rose 4.9 percent year-over-year. In September, Nomura cut China’s expectations from 8.2% to 7.7%.

The economic bloc in August cut the forecast from 8.9 percent, saying the Chinese government is “acting extremist” against COVID-19 as a factor that is hampering growth.

Alibaba, which is overseen by officials criticizing the power of major technology companies and Chinese President Xi Jinping promoting “common development”, has reduced its promotion of the festival compared to previous years.

The annual e-commerce giant show at the event took place online due to the COVID-19 epidemics across the country. The company has also promised to focus on environmental conservation and charitable activities.

China’s trade deficit has deteriorated in recent months amid widespread COVID expansion and market downturns [File: Thomas Peter/Reuters]

In the capital, signs of economic laziness are not difficult to find. Visitors to the shining city of Sanlitun in the city of Beijing today are greeted by mesh guards and black uniformed guards with Soviet-style fur hats.

Consumers will not be able to enter a store without providing a “green health code” on their smartphone and monitor their body temperature. With the exception of the newly opened Uniqlo supermarket, most of the shops are empty, and tired workers are often the only people living there.

While people are avoiding shopping malls, experts still expect Singles’ Day to produce a well-known demonstration – although growth may be small compared to previous years.

Houze Song, a research fellow at the Paulson Institute in Chicago, said he was looking forward to seeing how the business performed like last year.

“Especially since there are daily cases of COVID up to 50 per day, which makes it easier for people to use the internet,” Song said.

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