Singles’ Day online sales hit nearly $31 billion as Chinese go on buying frenzy

China’s retail power was on full display over the weekend as the country’s online shoppers bought goods worth nearly $31 billion during the annual 24-hour Singles’ Day sales, shattering last year’s $24 billion record.

China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba said on Monday the Singles’ Day sales on its online shopping platforms reached a record 213.5 billion yuan or about $30.7 billion on November 11, also popularly known as 11/11.

The sales volume broke through gloomy forecasts of depressed 11/11 purchase volumes as China, the second-largest economy, goes through an economic slowdown and a trade war with the US, the largest economy in the world.

The total sales on the company’s online platforms, including Tmall and Taobao on Sunday, represented an annual increase of about 27% from 168.2 billion yuan a year ago, Alibaba said.

In fact, Singles’ Day sales on Tmall hit 10 billion yuan or $1.44 billion in just two minutes and five seconds after midnight on Sunday, the official news agency, Xinhua reported.

“Alibaba launched the annual online shopping promotion on Nov. 11, 2009, a day celebrated by many Chinese young people as Singles’ Day,” the report said, adding that sales of Tmall’s first shopping festival totalled about 52 million yuan and the number has been growing ever since with increasingly more consumers turn to online shopping.

The date was chosen because 11-11 resembles four “bare sticks”, a Chinese term for bachelors. The 27% increase in sales, however, was the lowest year-on-year since the Singles’ Day was launched in 2009 by the Alibaba.

According to Alibaba, more than 19,000 overseas brands from 75 countries and regions participated in this year’s online shopping spree in China.

To cater to huge demand, transportation authorities in Kunming, capital of Yunnan, in southwest China arranged six high-speed trains every day as well as adding extra coaches to regular trains to make sure that local goods ordered during the shopping festival will be delivered across the country in a timely manner, state media reported.

In October, Alibaba opened a warehouse with 700 robots to assist with logistics on the busiest days of the year.

There were doubts whether this year’s sales on Singles’ Day could break earlier records.

“Coming at a time when the world’s second-largest economy is facing significant internal and external challenges, this year’s Singles’ Day could shed some light on consumers’ confidence in the economy,” analysts had told the tabloid Global Times last week.

The end-results were encouraging and the 24-hour shopping flurry showed how domestic consumption is increasingly becoming a major economic growth driver, unlikely to be overshadowed by temporary trade frictions.

First Published: Nov 12, 2018 10:10 IST

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