Black Friday: Alibaba’s Singles’ Day sale Amassed $25.3 billion
After retailer Alibaba turned the tongue-in-cheek cultural “celebration” of single people in China to the country’s version of Black Friday in 2009, eight years later, sales from the Chinese e-commerce’s one-day event has nearly doubled those from Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the US combined.
Alibaba reported that sales from Singles’ Day amounted to $25.3 billion, a 40 percent jump from last year’s figures. (The number did not take into account some sales that began earlier in the week in honor of the event.) Additionally, the retailer hit a record $18 billion in just 13 hours on Saturday, eclipsing last year’s record of $17.8 billion in 24 hours. Market research experts say the massive growth is attributed to retailers competing for a share of consumer spending in China’s growing economy. In comparison, US sales between Thanksgiving until Cyber Monday accounted for $12.8 billion in 2016.
Just like US versions of the shopping holidays, Alibaba offered discounts on a variety of goods, from household items to electronic gadgets to clothing to beauty supplies. Revenue also came in the form of “virtual shopping cart space,” where customers can pay for expanded cart capacity.
In honor of the event, Alibaba founder Jack Ma held a gala to celebrate its kickoff, with celebrities like Pharrell, Nicole Kidman, Jessie J, and Maria Sharapova in attendance. It was televised on both Alibaba’s video service and on three Chinese TV networks. Ahead of the event, the retailer also outfitted nearly 100,000 of its Tmall stores across China with facial recognition technology to process payments.