Published: Mon, November 12, 2018
Money | By Hannah Jacobs

Alibaba's Singles' Day smashes records with over $30bn in sales

Alibaba's Singles' Day smashes records with over $30bn in sales

In the hours leading up to the shopping event, Alibaba hosted its fourth annual countdown gala to celebrate the official launch of the festival.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴) yesterday smashed last year's record for its Singles' Day sales event, surpassing 168 billion yuan (US$24.15 billion) in sales in under 16 hours.

About $9 billion in sales were made on Cyber Monday in 2017, up about 17 per cent from the previous year, according to Adobe Analytics.

Alibaba's Tmall platform saw $US1.44 billion in sales in the first two minutes of Singles' Day, which began at midnight, according to Chinese news agency Xinhua.

The spending binge on items including iPhones, furniture and milk powder has for years eclipsed Cyber Monday in the U.S. for online purchases made on a single day.

Hema, a grocery store launched by Alibaba in 2015 and one of the "new retail" flagships, allows customers to shop and dine in-store as well as order groceries online.

Still, there's some uncertainty this year, as the trade war and deflating asset values threaten to disrupt economic growth. It started as a spoof anti-Valentine's Day event celebrated by single Chinese university students in the 1990s. With Singapore-based Lazada now fully under its wing, the region remains one of the company's relative bright spots, amid a backdrop of slowing growth in China and turmoil brought on by the escalating trade war.

This is also likely to be Alibaba's last November sale event with founder and chairman Jack Ma at its helm.

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

And while Evans and Alibaba are confident about Singles Day and Alibaba's role in the future of commerce, reports of a slowing economy in China loom large.

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

Alibaba group CEO Daniel Zhang said the Indian market was big and it was seen by many big companies as a strategic location.

"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.

Alibaba kicked off this year's sales with a gala event that featured USA singer Mariah Carey, a Japanese Beyonce impersonator and a shoe-shopping-themed Cirque du Soleil performance.

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