Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group cashed a record Ksh 3 Trillion($30.7 billion) in sales Sunday during Singles’ Day, it’s annual 24-hour online retail frenzy that goes live every 11th November.
Shoppers in China and across the world snapped up hot deals on items, including iPhones, furniture and milk powder, with Alibaba recording about Ksh 1 Trillion($10 billion) in sales in the first hour after midnight. Singles’ Day, also called “Double 11,” is the world’s biggest online sales event, outstripping the sales of U.S. shopping holidays Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.
The Chinese event was originally a novelty student holiday to celebrate being single, countering Valentine’s Day, but it has since grown into a monthlong online shopping festival that peaks with a 24-hour sale on Nov. 11. This year, the company surpassed last year’s full-day sales record of more than $24 billion in just short of 16 hours.
Despite the record haul, the annual sales growth rate fell from 39 percent to 27 percent. It was at the low end of analyst estimates, and it was the smallest rate in the event’s 10-year history. It comes as the company is grappling with a slimmer sales outlook amid rising trade tensions with the United States that have taken a bite out of China’s economy.
Earlier this month, it revised down its full-year sales outlook by 4 percent to 6 percent, sending further chills through the company’s stock price, which has dropped by about 16 percent this year after having almost doubled in 2017. To compensate, the company will take in less commission from its platforms in the near term to retain brands and attract new buyers, it said.
While small appliances and cosmetics were strong on Sunday, sales in big-ticket items, including large appliances, slowed alongside a downturn in the housing market, Alibaba Vice Chairman Joe Tsai said in a release.
“If people aren’t buying new homes, they aren’t buying appliances,” he said. Analysts said sales continued to be cannibalized by competing events, including the “618” festival spearheaded by competitor JD.com Inc. in June.
“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, a partner at the firm