Saturday, 19 October, 2019

China's annual shopping frenzy shatters records again

Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang kicks off the 11:11 Global Shopping Festival in Beijing.                  Image Supplied Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang kicks off the 11:11 Global Shopping Festival in Beijing. Image Supplied
Russell Knight | 11 November, 2018, 19:44

E-commerce giant Alibaba has set new sales records on Sunday for its biggest shopping day, the annual Singles Day.

It is now the world's biggest online sales event and last year's total was more than Black Friday and Cyber Monday's totals combined, according to Bloomberg.

Alibaba's Tmall platform saw $US1.44 billion in sales in the first two minutes of Singles' Day, which began at midnight, according to Chinese news agency Xinhua.

A screen shows the value of goods being transacted at Alibaba Group's 11.11 Singles' Day global shopping festival in Shanghai, China, November 11, 2018.

Alibaba has also faced new challenges this year, such as new rivals in the market, a slowing economy and its stock dropping 16% thanks to China's trade war with the US.

Singles' Day has been a fixture in China since Alibaba turned the "holiday" meant to deride single people into a shopping extravaganza in 2009 by offering deep discounts on a range of products from electronics to travel packages.

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The Twitter-like Weibo platform was blanketed with Singles Day-related posts on Sunday, from users proudly proclaiming that they had resisted the shopping urge this year to those who cheerfully listed an array of mundane purchases. It had started in the 1990s on university campuses as a celebration of being single, a retort of sorts to Valentine's Day. Billionaire co-founder Jack Ma has been a vocal opponent of the tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of US and Chinese goods, calling the trade war "the most stupid thing in this world".

Alibaba kicks off the annual event with a gala, which this year featured USA singer Mariah Carey, a Japanese Beyonce impersonator and a shoe-shopping-themed Cirque du Soleil performance. While most businesses benefit from the holiday in China now, the biggest beneficiary of Singles' Day is Alibaba.

The November sale event is expected to founder Jack Ma's last at the helm of the company. In a mere 10 hours time that number has increased to $10 billion.

The opening of 11.11 global shopping event was enlivened by performances featuring Mariah Carey, Cirque du Soleil and many more.

"Back in 2013, CNY 35 billion ($5.15 billion or roughly Rs. 34,523 crores) was our one-day GMV (gross merchandise volume)", said Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang in a live micro-blog posting on Alibaba's event.

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