UPDATE: In a closely watched event, Alibaba brought in more than $14 billion in sales during its “Singles Day” shopping event, easily toppling last year’s record of $9.3 billion, the company said Thursday.
Chinese retail competitor JD.com also benefited from the day, which was concocted by Alibaba six years ago and named for all the “ones” in the date Nov. 11. And American and European brands, like Zara, Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus, which joined the party this year despite not having a usual Chinese presence, also scooped up sales. JD said it had surpassed its sales last year but didn’t give specifics.
Economists are especially interested in Singles Day this year because the Chinese economy is slowing, though its “slow” growth in Q3 was by most standards a healthy 6.9%.
This year Alibaba flew past last year’s Single’s Day sales record just halfway through the event. Nearly three-quarters of those massive sales, 73.9% of total GMV, or $2.9 billion came from mobile in the first hour of the sale, up drastically from last year’s 45.7%. The company also said that $5 billion of GMV was transacted through its Alipay payment affiliate in the first 90 minutes of the sale. By comparison, last year's online sales on Black Friday promotions in the U.S. running Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday reached $6.56 billion, according to eMarketer.
“This year, Alibaba Group has transformed 11.11 into an unprecedented mobile shopping experience,” said CEO Daniel Zhang in his opening remarks for the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival Countdown Gala. “Over the course of the 24-hour shopping marathon, consumers will have a new surprise every hour that has been especially tailored for mobile users. The whole world will witness the power of Chinese consumption this November 11.”
Even before the day ended, it became clear that it was a good day for Alibaba, which has struggled of late after a high-profile, record-setting American IPO last year. In addition to the headwinds in the Chinese economy, it’s been fighting problems with sales of counterfeit goods on its marketplace and hasn’t made many inroads into the U.S. market.
Singles Day may not help the retailer with that first problem, as sales of fake goods are also expected to benefit from the day’s boom.