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Alibaba shoppers shatter Singles Day record already, spending $56 billion

People look at their phones during Alibaba Group’s 11.11 Singles’ Day global shopping festival at a media center in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China November 10, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group said orders made during its Singles’ Day mega-shopping festival had exceeded $56 billion by Wednesday morning, as consumers sought to cash in on a deluge of discounts.
That’s already far ahead of last year’s Singles Day record of $38.4 billion.

This year’s shopping extravaganza comes a week after Alibaba lost almost $76 billion of its market value following China’s suspension of the $37 billion listing of Ant Group, the financial technology firm Alibaba owns a third of.

It also takes place as China experiences an economic rebound after getting the spread of the novel coronavirus under control within its borders, following the virus’ emergence in the central city of Wuhan late last year.

Alibaba launched the annual online blitz early this year, with two primary discount periods, one from November 1 to 3 and the other today.

The company will calculate gross merchandise volume (GMV) over the full 11-day period, as opposed to the usual 24 hours.

As of 12:30am. local time, the campaign’s GMV had surpassed 372.3 billion yuan ($56.3 billion) with the order rate hitting a record peak of 583,000 per second, Alibaba said.

Alibaba has said it will introduce more than 2 million new products, double last year’s amount. Other companies such as Douyin – the Chinese version of Beijing ByteDance Technology Co Ltd’s TikTok – JD and Pinduoduo are also holding their own Singles Day shopping events.

JD, which started its shopping promotions on November 1, said it recorded 200 billion yuan worth of sales by nine minutes after midnight on Wednesday, while electronics retailer Suning – part-owned by Alibaba – said it made 5 billion yuan in sales in the first 19 minutes of the day.

Analysts expect this year to be a boon for luxury brands, as Chinese consumers accustomed to going overseas to buy high-end goods are now stuck at home due to coronavirus border closures.

Andy Halliwell, retail analyst at digital consultancy Publicis Sapient, in a client note said, “The lack of consumer tourism which has hit European and US stalwarts like Harrods, Galeries Lafayette and Nordstroms will likely see bigger spending locally”.

On China’s Twitter-like Weibo, discussions around Singles Day trended while a poll by Sina Entertainment, which garnered 174,000 respondents, found 76,000 people aimed to spend less than 1000 yuan while only 7341 planned to dole out more than 10,000 yuan.

Alibaba first launched the shopping event in 2009 and has made it the world’s biggest online sales festival, eclipsing Cyber Monday in the US. 

Pop star Katy Perry, who has performed at the event before, made an appearance at the company’s gala late on Tuesday, albeit via livestream, as travel restrictions on outside visitors remain in place in China.

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