Record $38.4 billion in sales for China’s Alibaba on Singles Day

Market analysts were predicting on Monday that China’s Alibaba, a multi-conglomerate, global business would hit $37 billion in sales on Nov. 11, dubbed Singles Day or 11/11 Global Shopping Festival or Double 11 Day.

Instead it topped that prediction with $38.4 billion in total sales within 24 hours. In just the first minute and a half at the start of Singles Day $1 billion worth of stuff were sold and in the first hour $12 billion. That’s how fast transactions were clicking across Alibaba Group Holding’s online platforms like Taobao and Tmall.

Singles Day started on the college campus of Nanjing University back in the early 1990s as a way for singles to celebrate being single and buy gifts to treat themselves. But in 2008, 11 years ago, Alibaba’s CEO, Daniel Zheng, created Singles Day as an annual extravaganza for its online business and with China’s huge consumer market it soon outpaced the combined sales of Black Friday and Cyber Monday to become the largest one-day shopping event globally.

The total mass of sales burgeoned from $7million in its first Singles Day to $30.8 billion in 2018 which beat the online sales volume of Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Amazon Prime Day combined. Monday’s record of $38.4 billion set a record increase of 26% from 2018.

To help promote sales of its Singles Day event, Alibaba hosted its fifth annual countdown gala on its video-streaming platform Youku, on which celebrities and artists, which this year included Grammy Award singer, Taylor Swift, performed as well as others from around the world. Also more than a million new products were launched by 200,000 brands that participated in the one-day event. Alibaba processed over 1.3 billion delivery orders in one day.

Barron’s reports that another driver of this year’s sales were cross-border orders such as products from the US, South Korea, Japan, Australia and Germany which were among the most popular with Chinese consumers, according to Alibaba.

Fan Jiang, President of Taobao and Tmall said in a statement on Monday that Alibaba’s online platforms showed the world the future of consumption not only for brands but for consumers as the company continues to meet the growing demands for its consumers in China, to help them upgrade their lifestyles as it introduces new users to its online digital economy from across the country and around the globe.

Most of the overseas brands which had over 1 billion yuan or $143 million in sales were from the US such as Apple, Bose, Estee Lauder, Gap, Levi Strauss,, Nestle, Nike, The North Face, and Under Armour. Other global businesses that made over a 1 billion yuan were H&M clothing company from Sweden, L’Oreal from France for cosmetics, and from Japan, MUJI for household goods and Uniqlowhich sells casual wear.