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Alibaba-led Singles Day bonanza hit by business caution and COVID

Subdued approach to annual consumer retail fiesta as Beijing targets influencers

A promotion for Alibaba's Singles Day sales event. The e-commerce giant pioneered the annual shopping fiesta in China. (Photo courtesy of Alibaba)

HONG KONG -- China's annual Singles Day shopping extravaganza is usually a showcase for exuberant consumerism. This year, not so much.

The month of buildup to the event, which ends Friday, has had a lower profile this year as the country enters a new era in which the consumer boom is being dampened by top policymakers and daily lives are being severely affected by abrupt COVID-19 lockdowns.

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