On November 12, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba reported a record $25.3bn in sales on Singles’ Day. The event is celebrated on November 11 in China and is the biggest commercial day of the year, with sales reaching at least 225 countries worldwide.
Although the celebration for single people has existed since the mid-90s, the annual event has become a relevant date for online retailers in China since 2009, when Alibaba began offering discounts on its e-commerce platform. In the last few years, other Chinese companies, such as JD.com, have also taken part in the festival, which has recently reached a global level and has made the opportunity for retailers even greater.
During the busiest periods, the company registered 256,000 transactions per second
As in previous years, Alibaba was the big winner as it generated CNY 168.2bn ($25.3bn) in sales. The figure represents an increase of around 42 percent against sales in the 24-hour event in 2016. The Wall Street Journal reported that last year’s total had already been beaten by 1pm on Sunday, just 13 hours after it had begun.
The Singles’ Day numbers are significantly larger than those of Black Friday – celebrated the day after Thanksgiving – and Cyber Monday, which this year will take place on November 24 and November 27 respectively.
In 2016, Black Friday’s sales were above the $3bn mark for the first time, with a total of $3.34bn sales. Cyber Monday was also successful: billed as the biggest day in the history of US e-commerce, it reached $3.45bn in sales, according to estimations by Adobe Digital Insights. Nonetheless, these two commercial days combined only account for just over a quarter of the most popular day for retailers in China.
According to Bloomberg, mobile transactions accounted for about 90 percent of Alibaba’s Singles’ Day sales. Indeed, during the busiest periods, the company registered 256,000 transactions per second.
Smartphones and home appliances were the favourites of the public, but buyers also spent higher amounts on luxury goods: for example, an Aston Martin racing yacht was purchased for $2.56m.
Meanwhile, JD.com reported sales of $19.1bn, up by 50 percent on last year’s figure. However, unlike Alibaba’s figure, this total includes 11 days of transactions, as the company also includes the 10 days leading up to the big day.
With a new record far surpassing that achieved in other countries, China has proved its leadership in e-commerce once more.