World Economy

Alibaba Singles’ Day Sales Garner $8b

Alibaba Singles’ Day Sales Garner $8bAlibaba Singles’ Day Sales Garner $8b

China’s online retail giant Alibaba says it has pulled in almost $8b in sales from its annual ‘Singles’ Day’ shopping event.

At 20:00 Beijing time on Tuesday, the firm said sales had reached 47.3 billion yuan ($7.7b), and that it had shipped 224 million orders.

Last year, Alibaba recorded sales of $5.75b and shipped more than 150 million packages.

Less than eight weeks after its public share listing in New York, which set its own $25 billion record, expectations for this year are high.

Alibaba did 35 billion yuan in business during last year’s festival, and Tech research firm IDC predicts this year’s total gross merchandise volume (GMV) will reach $8.62 billion.

Less than 18 minutes into this year’s “11.11 Shopping Festival”, GMV had already hit $1 billion, the company said.

The numbers are boosted by Alibaba’s “pre-sales initiative”. Merchants advertised Singles’ Day prices as early as Oct. 15, taking deposits for the items but only processing full payments and shipping the goods on Singles’ Day itself.

Though the 27,000 vendors that take part can boost their sales and gain customers by being featured on Alibaba’s Singles’ Day shopping sites, some have also complained the sharp discounts and cut-throat corporate rivalry undercut the benefits.

Chinese e-commerce rival Inc said on its official Twitter account that orders in the first 10 hours of Singles’ Day had more than doubled compared with last year, up 140 percent.

China’s Xiaomi Technology Co Ltd., the world’s third-largest smartphone maker, which also uses the Singles’ Day festival to boost turnover, said on its official Weibo account its sales had so far surpassed 1.2 billion yuan, selling more than 853,000 phones.

The “11.11 Shopping Festival”, which Alibaba says is the world’s biggest 24-hour online sale, began in 2009 when just 27 merchants on the company’s site offered deep discounts to boost sales during an otherwise slack period.

This year’s festival is global, reaching shoppers in more than 200 countries, the company said.

  Singles Day

“November 11 used to be ‘Singles’ Day’. Then it became the Shopping Day, and now it’s Couples’ Shopping Day,” complains one user on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. “Looking across the globe and over the years, there’s never really been a day dedicated to single people.”

Others point out that China’s biggest online shopping platform, Alibaba, engineered the change.

Alibaba trademarked the term “Double-11”, a popular term describing the November 11th holiday, in 2012. The website earns a significant chunk of its profits on that day.

Frustration lingered in the background of many Weibo forums.

Shoppers complained the online deals were too good, tempting them to spend money they didn’t have.