Alibaba’s Singles’ Day Brings In Record $74 Billion In Pandemic Year

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Isabel Togoh   Staff

Alibaba’s Singles’ Day Brings In Record $74 Billion In Pandemic Year

Photo: Alibaba Group Facebook

Alibaba’s Singles’ Day, the world’s largest online shopping event held in China, was a blowout this year as it reported a record $74 billion in sales over 11 days, shedding the doldrums of the past few months that have seen both major and small retailers shut their doors and home-bound consumers flock to e-commerce in the midst of unprecedented pandemic lockdowns.

KEY FACTS

- The shopping event, which beats out Black Friday, Amazon Prime Day and Cyber Monday shopping events put together, saw a 26% rise on last year’s event.

- Some 250,000 brands globally took part in the event from Nov. 1 to Nov. 11, with 2,600 taking part for the first time, in a sign of firms pivoting to online following a devastating year for retailers.

- In line with the event’s festival-like tradition of hosting live-streaming events and music performances, Katy Perry headlined the event virtually.

- Alibaba said the U.S. was the top-country selling to China by gross revenue, with Canada, the U.K., Italy, France, Germany and New Zealand also among the “top-selling” countries to China. 

- The success of the shopping event comes against a backdrop of an economic rebound in China—where the novel coronavirus was first detected last December—with the economy growing 4.9% between July and September.

BIG NUMBER

583,000. That’s how many orders Alibaba processed every second at peak times during the shopping event, it said in a statement.

KEY BACKGROUND

E-commerce giant Alibaba first launched its Singles’ Day event 11 years ago to coincide with the unofficial Chinese holiday event celebrating singledom on Nov. 11. The event has steadily ballooned and now outpaces Black Friday in sales, hosting hundreds of thousands of brands, including U.S. and European brands such as Macy’s and Asos and luxury brands keen to capture their slice of a booming retail market and attract young, bargain-hunting shoppers, as Vogue reports. In a year in which global retail sales have been forecast by analysts to plummet by $2.1 trillion, or 9.6%, other online retail festivals have seen a boom in activity. Amazon, one of the winners of the pandemic with shares up 74% this year as consumers turned to the site while brick and mortar business were shuttered, saw its own Prime Day event this year rake in $10.4 billion, up 45% on last year. 

TANGENT

Alibaba’s Singles’ Day success contrasts with troubles looming over billionaire founder Jack Ma, at odds with Chinese regulators who halted a record IPO for Alibaba’s fintech arm, Ant Group. The firm was set to debut on the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges on November 5, raising $34.5 billion and becoming the world’s largest ever IPO, but it was postponed last minute over regulatory issues.

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Isabel Togoh   Staff

I am a breaking news reporter for Forbes in London, covering Europe and the U.S. Previously I was a news reporter for HuffPost UK, the Press Association and a night reporter at the Guardian. I studied Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics, where I was a writer and editor for one of the university’s global affairs magazines, the London Globalist. That led me to Goldsmiths, University of London, where I completed my M.A. in Journalism.