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Daily Drip

The Numbers Are In: Alibaba’s Biggest Singles’ Day Ever

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This year’s Singles’ Day shopping bonanza has already smashed its own records, with Alibaba reporting 84 billion RMB (nearly 12 billion USD) in sales in the first hour, up almost 22 percent from 69 billion RMB in 2018. The whole thing was punctuated in classic Singles’ Day fashion, with glitzy performances by international and local artists, from Taylor Swift to Jackson Yee. This year’s revenue increase comes as a surprise to some observers who expected Singles’ Day figures to level off in the face of China’s current economic slowdown, trade tensions with the United States, and the holiday’s first year without Jack Ma at the helm.

Here’s a quick list of the statistics thus far:

  • This year’s sales hit one billion RMB (nearly 143 million USD) after just 68 seconds.
  • After 20 minutes, sales reached 8.7 billion RMB (more than 1.2 billion USD).
  • It took just under 64 minutes to rack in 100 billion RMB (nearly 14.3 billion USD) — about 43 and a half minutes faster than last year.
  • Sales for the first nine hours totaled 158.31 billion RMB (about 22.6 billion USD).
  • Alibaba is on track to achieve a new overall 11/11 sales record, which it has accomplished every single year since it began the shopping holiday 10 years ago.
  • An Alibaba spokesperson said the company expects 500 million consumers to participate via Alibaba sites such as Taobao and Tmall, up from about 400 million last year.
  • Last year, net sales for the day were about 30 billion USD, compared to 25 billion in 2017.
  • One big winner this year was Apple, whose official Tmall store took only 10 minutes to pull in seven times the amount they sold in last year’s entire holiday.
  • Alibaba competitor JD.com made 100 million RMB of sales in the holiday’s first 10 seconds.

Related:

China Explained: How Singles’ Day Became the World’s Biggest Shopping Event

November 11 (11/11) began as a holiday for singles in the 1990s. The holiday became popular on college campuses, and in 2009, Alibaba began getting online merchants to mark the day with discounts. Within several years, the date had morphed into the world’s biggest shopping event, with sales surpassing those from Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

While sales records have been broken every year since the event began in 2009, last year’s increase from 25 billion USD to 30 billion was the lowest percent increase to date. Alibaba claims that consumers spent 38.4 billion USD for Singles’ Day 2019 (though this includes pre-orders) — a new record.

This year’s numbers might serve as an indication that Chinese consumers are still willing to spend, in spite of the country’s slowing economy.

Zach Hollo
    J. Zach Hollo is a RADII contributor currently based in Guangzhou. He recently competed a master's degree in international affairs at National Chengchi University in Taipei, where he studied as a Fulbright scholar. Before that, he taught English in China's Hunan and Henan provinces. As an undergraduate, he attended Northwestern University's campus in Doha, Qatar, where he majored in journalism.