Alibaba shopping extravaganza earns US$10b in first hour

Ivan Schwartz
November 11, 2018

The e-commerce giant launched the annual online shopping promotion on November 11, 2009, a day celebrated by many Chinese young people as Single's Day.

While not an exact comparison, Amazon's total sales are estimated to have topped $4.2 billion over the company's 36-hour Prime Day event in July, according to Wedbush Securities Inc. analyst Michael Pachter. Pre-sales prior to the event were brisk, with 33 brands on Tmall reporting 100 million-yuan worth of pre-orders, the company said. "We have to continue to change to reach 300 billion or 500 billion", said chief executive Daniel Zhang, who is credited with being the architect of the original Singles' Day sales.

But since its inception, mainly thanks to Chinese tech giant Alibaba, in the last decade Singles' Day has blossomed into the largest shopping holiday in the world. Amazon does not release Prime Day sales figures, but the company said it was "the biggest shopping event in Amazon history", exceeding sales from Cyber Monday, Black Friday, and the previous Prime Day.

While sales growth remains steady, Alibaba's stock has dropped 16 percent this year amid economic uncertainties linked to brewing trade tensions between China and the United States. They are also integrating their products with smart-home offerings.

Total online sales on Black Friday reached $5 billion in 2017, according to Adobe Analytics data.

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Alibaba kicks off the annual event with a gala, which this year featured US singer Mariah Carey, a Japanese Beyonce impersonator and a shoe-shopping-themed Cirque du Soleil performance.

In the lead-up this year's event, there were concerns that Alibaba and other e-commerce sites like JD.com, which runs a similar sale, may be hit hard by new tariffs on USA goods.

Online sales growth is also slowing across the board in the country's eastern mega-cities, including Shanghai and Beijing, and Alibaba said roughly 75 percent of new users last quarter were in "less developed" areas.

The November sale event is expected to founder Jack Ma's last at the helm of the company.

"Having said that, there are more consumers who still enjoy shopping at double 11 than those that don't", he said.

Other reports by GizPress

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