The Alibaba Group‘s various shopping platforms broke the 10 billion-yuan (USD 1.44 billion) sales threshold within the first two minutes and five seconds, after the e-commerce giant kicked off the 10th year of its iconic Double 11 shopping gala (also called 11.11 sale).
The Alibaba Group surpassed last year’s Singles’ Day record with more than eight hours to go before the end of the 24-hour shopping festival, cementing its position as the world’s biggest retail event and assuaging concerns that Chinese consumer sentiment is softening, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, which is owned by Alibaba, reported.
Also known as Double 11, the shopping extravaganza will draw to a close at midnight. Consumers spent a total of 168.5 billion yuan (USD 24.3 billion) by the afternoon, the report said.
Last year, the Alibaba Group reported USD 25.3 billion of orders.
Other brands and e-commerce retailers like JD.com, Mogujie and VipShop too reported heavy sales.
November 11 is being celebrated since 2009 as an online antidote to the sentimentality surrounding Valentine’s Day. It was named “Singles’ Day” because its date, 11/11 (November 11), consists of four “ones,” representing four singles.
November 11 has become a default date for people to snap up things and binge on entertainment shows. Alibaba is also using the occasion to test the limits of its cloud computing, delivery, and payment capabilities, as well as try out new business endeavours that are uprooting traditional retailers.
Sales were helped by the participation of Alibaba’s Southeast Asia unit Lazada, as well as subsidiaries Ele.me, Koubei, supermarket chain Hema and other business units.
The total gross merchandise volume (GMV) for this year’s Singles’ Day – or the value of total transactions on the platform – is keenly watched as a barometer of consumer spending and retail health in the world’s second-biggest economy amid the trade war with US.
The US has slapped additional tariffs on USD 250 billion worth of goods demanding China to reduce USD 375 billion trade deficit.
Within half an hour of Singles’ Day, 30 brands, including Nike, Uniqlo, Adidas, Procter & Gamble, Xiaomi and Apple had crossed 100 million yuan in sales. In just one second, 3,700 Singles’ Day special edition MAC lipsticks were sold out.
Health supplements topped the list of most popular imported items purchased by consumers in China as of 12 pm, followed by milk powder, facial masks and milk powder, according to Alibaba. Skincare products were also among the most-bought items from abroad, the data showed.
Residents of Shanghai were the biggest spenders, followed by those in Beijing, Hangzhou and Guangzhou.
Alibaba hosted a star-studded gala on Saturday night in Shanghai, featuring superstar singer Mariah Carey and Cirque du Soleil to pump sales.
Pre-sales prior to the event were brisk, with 33 brands on Tmall reporting 100 million-yuan worth of pre-orders, the company said. Down payments for consumer electronics on Tmall have jumped nearly six-fold year-on-year, with popular brands including Apple, Huawei, Siemens and Dyson, state run China Daily reported.