Alibaba Singles Day sales top $24 billion so far

Alibaba’s online retail blitz known as Singles Day has pulled in $24 billion so far, China’s biggest e-commerce company said on Monday.

The event regularly racks up bigger sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined — and with more than half a day left in the shopping extravaganza, Alibaba appears to be on track to surpass last year’s $30 billion haul.

During Singles Day pre-sales, which kicked off three weeks ago, Estée Lauder raked in a record 1 billion yuan ($143 million) in pre-orders, Alibaba said on Sunday. Alibaba users also pre-ordered 100 million yuan ($14 million) worth of Apple iPhone 11s, the company said.

This year’s Singles Day comes as Alibaba’s growth is under pressure from China’s slowing economy and the trade war with the United States.

A recent survey from research firm Oliver Wyman found that buyers are expecting to spend nearly 10% more on Singles Day this year compared to 2018. That could be a sign of weakening growth, though. Last year, Alibaba reported a 27% uptick in Singles Day revenue.

“Singles Day is being held up as a bellwether of Chinese consumers’ willingness to spend in the face of a domestic slowdown” wrote Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst for Asia Pacific at Oanda, in a note Monday. But “deeply discounting prices always brings consumers out to play, no matter how bad the economy might be,” he added.

Singles Day is an informal, anti-Valentine’s Day holiday in China celebrating people who aren’t in relationships. Its date, November 11, was chosen because the date is written as four ones, or singles.

Alibaba started offering Singles Day discounts in 2009 and has since turned the day into a 24-hour bonanza of online shopping in China.

Other Chinese e-commerce platforms like JD.com and regular brick-and-mortar stores also take part, and the event is starting to gain traction outside China. Alibaba’s Southeast Asia subsidiary Lazada offers Singles Day discounts in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Brands like Nike and Brooks Brothers are offering Singles Day discounts on their websites in the United States.

But the Singles Day event in China is by far the splashiest.

International companies flock to Alibaba’s celebrity-studded live telecast and its various online platforms, eager to hawk everything from liquor to sports cars. Taylor Swift closed out this year’s four-hour long show, performing three songs shortly before midnight.

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