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Alibaba says Singles Day sales reach US$9.3b

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Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba said consumers spent a record US$9.3 billion during its 24-hour shopping promotion Singles Day on Tuesday, cementing its position as the world's biggest online retail event.

[SHANGHAI] Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba said consumers spent a record US$9.3 billion during its 24-hour shopping promotion Singles Day on Tuesday, cementing its position as the world's biggest online retail event.

Shoppers spent US$3.5 billion, or 60 per cent, more than the US$5.8 billion sales recorded for the same day last year, the group said in a statement Wednesday.

It also dwarfed the major shopping days in the US in terms of transaction value, toppling the combined online sales of US$5.3 billion recorded on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday through to Cyber Monday last year, according to data compiled by Internet analytics firm comScore.

Alibaba has been pushing November 11 as Singles Day - so named for the number of ones in the date - since 2009 as it looks to tap an expanding army of Internet shoppers in China, which has the world's biggest online population.

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The day was originally marketed as an "anti-Valentine's Day" in China, featuring hefty discounts to lure the country's singletons and price-sensitive buyers.

It was expanded globally this year to include more than 27,000 overseas brands and merchants as well as customers from more than 217 countries and regions.

Deals settled on Alibaba's China and international retail market places reached 57.1 billion yuan (US$9.3 billion) for the day, the group said in the release.

The number of transactions made per minute peaked at 2.85 million, it added.

"We are very happy with the results of this year's 11.11 shopping festival," said Alibaba chief executive Jonathan Lu.

"We are particularly encouraged by the growing trend of consumers embracing mobile shopping on a global stage." Approximately US$4 billion of deals, or 42.6 per cent of total, were made via mobile devices, according to the company.

Some 278.5 million packages were expected to be shipped after the event, it said.

The strong set of figures came against the backdrop of a growing online retail market in China and increasing spending power of consumers, analysts said.

Nonetheless Alibaba shares, which have risen strongly since its record-breaking $25 billion initial public offering two months ago, dropped 3.87 per cent to US$114.54 in New York on Tuesday.

China overtook the United States last year to be the world's largest online retail market, with sales of 1.85 trillion yuan, commerce ministry statistics show.

Headquartered in the eastern city of Hangzhou, Alibaba does not sell products directly but acts as an electronic middleman, operating China's most popular consumer-to-consumer platform, Taobao, which is estimated to hold more than 90 per cent of the market.

AFP

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