Singles day, or “Guanggun Jie”, is a Chinese holiday celebrating pride in being single. In the past couple of decades, the November 11th celebration has become China’s biggest shopping day of the year, with many retailers offering discounts. In 2018, retail giant Alibaba set a Singles Day record by hitting $30.8 billion in sales in 24 hours.
With the world’s largest economy, China is a commercial giant. Its largest retailer, Alibaba, is the largest in the world. Retail sales figures and trends in China, as with other major economies like the U.S. and Europe, have enormous environmental impact. Importantly, the question now is what China, the U.S., Europe, and others will do with all of this abundance. Will the most powerful economies in the world drive for ever more consumption or could retail undergo a change? Could trends like minimalism and buying higher-priced, repairable local goods less frequently point to a future where Alibaba reaches $40 billion in sales not by selling more, but by selling different and better products? What would it take for wealthy nations, and their consumers, to steer the capitalist ship towards developing the capitalist model towards sustainability?