Alibaba Singles Day sales frenzy surpasses records

Workers sort parcels at an SF Express distribution centre ahead of the Singles' Day online shopping festival in Shenyang China on Oct 24

Even including the predicted Cyber Monday sales of $6.6 billion, the number is close to what Alibaba clocked in its Single's Day sales back in 2015.

Besides expanding overseas, the e-commerce giant continues to invest in China in what it calls "new retail", which optimizes in-store sales and service using data culled online.

Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba raked in nearly $10 billion in the first hour of its Singles' Day sale which kicked off on Sunday.

Just over an hour in, and sales exceeded $10 billion, around five minutes faster than past year. And Alibaba hopes it will make all the difference on this year's Singles Day ー and for Alibaba's future.

Alibaba had already generated more sales - $4.68 billion - just 10 minutes into Singles' Day 2018 than Amazon is estimated to have reached during its record-setting 2018 Prime Day event. "There is now a saying that "winter is coming" for the economy", said He Xiaoyu, a lecturer at the Central University of Finance and Economics, referring to Singles Day by its nickname 11.11, or November 11.

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New Zealand was the ninth-best performing country for sales on Singles' Day, up from 14th place in 2017, and ranked out of 230 countries and regions.

Evans admitted Alibaba has experienced some impact from China's economic issues, mainly via slowing of sales on big ticket items, like electronics. To cater to these consumers, Alibaba held its first Singles' Day shopping event in 2009 to serve these consumers.

The Twitter-like Weibo platform was blanketed with Singles Day-related posts on Sunday, from users proudly proclaiming they had resisted the shopping urge this year to those who cheerfully listed an array of mundane purchases.

Early sales figures are an indication that China's ongoing trade war with the United States has done little to dent domestic consumption so far.

"Singles Day is different now - it has more tricks than before", she said. And from what the e-commerce platform reports it has yet again achieved a new milestone.

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Analysts said the sales continued to be cannibalised by competing events, including the "618" festival spearheaded by Alibaba competitor JD.com Inc in June.

The gala featured worldwide celebrity appearances and performances from Miranda Kerr, Mariah Carey and Cirque du Soleil, which viewers were able to watch via two major TV stations as well as Youku's site.

Ma will hand the chairman's role to chief executive officer Daniel Zhang next year, passing along one of China's highest profile corporate roles at a time when the country is embroiled in a trade spat with the US.

"With an increasing number of promotion events a year, consumers no longer feel that Double 11 is the only opportunity to get good bargains", said Pedro Yip, partner at consulting firm Oliver Wyman.

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