Alibaba sees over $56bn in Singles' Day sales

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Alibaba (9988.HK) has seen over $56bn (£42.2bn) in orders made through its e-commerce sites during its Singles’ Day shopping event, the company announced on Wednesday.

As many as 16 million discounted products have been bought through the online shopping platform as part of the four-day event.

Alibaba said gross merchandise volume (GMV) had exceeded 372.3bn yuan ($56.3bn) with orders peaking at a record 583,000 per second. The sale included over 2 million discounted products — double the number from last year, when GMV for 11 November reached a record $38.4bn.

A screen shows sales information during the 2020 Tmall Global Shopping Festival on Singles' Day, also known as the Double 11 shopping festival, at a media centre in Hangzhou, in eastern China's Zhejiang province on November 11, 2020. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
A screen shows sales information during Singles' Day at a media centre in Hangzhou, China, 11 November 2020. Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images

Alibaba, founded by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma, launched the discount shopping day in 2009, encouraging people who are not in relationships to treat themselves to new products at a reduced price. It has since become the world's biggest sales event, surpassing both Black Friday and Cyber Monday together in the US.

So far the event has brought sellers on Alibaba platforms 16 times as many orders by value than Amazon (AMZN) saw in its two-day global Prime Day in October, according to Reuters.

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The success of Singles’ Day will likely come as a relief to Alibaba as it lost about 10% of its market value after Chinese regulators suspended the listing of financial technology affiliate Ant Group, also founded by Ma.

The event is usually held on 11 November, but Alibaba began early this year to give lesser-known brands more exposure, adding three extra primary discount days beginning 1 November. The company will calculate GMV over the 11 days, rather than 24 hours.

The shopping extravaganza comes amid China’s economic rebound after the coronavirus pandemic, while the US and Europe continue to struggle to contain the spread of the disease, with border closures and further lockdowns across the world.

Over 340 companies, including Apple (AAPL), L'Oreal (OR.PA), Huawei, and Nike (NKE), have seen over 100 million yuan in sales, and 13 brands have recorded GMV above 1 billion yuan, Alibaba said.

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Singles’ Day usually includes live shows at Alibaba’s gala but this year performances from popstars Katy Perry and Taylor Swift were livestreamed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As well as discounts from regular prices, Alibaba encourages shoppers across its several platforms to play mobile games, combine purchases across online stores and place orders early on in the sale to get the best deals.

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