A2 and NZ lamb a victor on Alibaba's Singles Day

Jermaine Castillo
November 12, 2018

Singles' Day is now considered the biggest shopping day of the year, exceeding sales of USA shopping days Black Friday and Cyber Monday, combined.

Alibaba Group set a record 213.5 billion yuan (US$30.8 billion) in Singles' Day sales, underscoring the resilience in consumer spending in the world's second-biggest economy.

As a kind of antidote to the societal pressures of being in a relationship, many of China's singles began splurging on themselves on Singles' Day, which became seen as a type of anti-Valentine's Day. This year, the shopping festival is focusing on Alibaba's New Retail strategy -the convergence of online and offline retail through technology.

Last year, the top three non-Chinese Singles' Day markets were Russia, Hong Kong and the United States - in that order. Alibaba's Tmall hosts a national television gala on November 10 with a countdown to the midnight start of Singles' Day that gives the event a New Year's Eve at Times Square feel.

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Other brands and e-commerce retailers like JD.com, Mogujie and VipShop too reported heavy sales. The 24-hour shopping extravaganza takes place on November 11 and outsells Black Friday and Cyber Monday US sales combined. They are also integrating their products with smart-home offerings.

The figure easily passed last year's record of $33 billion in sales, but as the tradition marked its 10th year its annual growth dropped to its slowest-ever rate, falling from 39 per cent to 27 per cent. Even including the predicted Cyber Monday sales of $6.6 billion, the number is close to what Alibaba clocked in its Single's Day sales back in 2015.

The biggest spenders were from Shanghai, where this year's Singles' Day gala was held, followed by those in Beijing, Hangzhou and Guangzhou.

Alibaba kicked off this year's sales with a gala event that featured USA singer Mariah Carey, a Japanese Beyonce impersonator and a shoe-shopping-themed Cirque du Soleil performance. With Singapore-based Lazada now fully under its wing, the region remains one of the company's relative bright spots, amid a backdrop of slowing growth in China and turmoil brought on by the escalating trade war.

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Singles Day "is not a day of discounts, but rather a day of gratitude", Ma said in the video.

The chief executive, who takes over from a retiring Ma as chairman next year, must prove he can carry on that legacy. China's digital retailers have come under fire for peddling low-quality and counterfeit items. The sale is a one-day long event.

Greenpeace estimated that by 2020, "biodegradable" packaging could produce roughly 721 truckloads of trash in China every day.

Still, there's some uncertainty this year, as the trade war and deflating asset values threaten to disrupt economic growth.

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