Date
8 December 2016
Soccer star David Beckham and other celebrities grace the countdown gala for Alibaba's annual November 11 Singles' Day online shopping event in Shenzhen. Photo: Bloomberg
Soccer star David Beckham and other celebrities grace the countdown gala for Alibaba's annual November 11 Singles' Day online shopping event in Shenzhen. Photo: Bloomberg

Alibaba set to break Singles’ Day sales record

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is on track to smash its Singles’ Day sales record after notching almost US$12 billion in sales around the half-way mark of its Singles’ Day shopathon.

The company has racked up 80.7 billion yuan (US$11.9 billion) in transactions as of midday in China, during the 24-hour event, Bloomberg reports.

Investors are keeping a close eye on the annual Nov. 11 spending blitz that dwarfs Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the United States, to see if Alibaba can reprise the 60 percent leap in transactions to 91.2 billion yuan (US$14.3 billion) it managed last year.

The e-commerce giant turned up the star-wattage for 2016, enlisting Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson, sports celebrity David Beckham, basketball legend Kobe Bryant and pop-rock band One Republic to headline a pre-sale gala and drum up international attention.

Pop star Katy Perry pulled out at the last minute because of a family emergency.

Pioneered by Alibaba in 2009 and since replicated by rivals including JD.com Inc., Singles’ Day has become somewhat of a barometer of Chinese consumer sentiment.

Executives have set the bar high, confidently predicting another record-breaking endeavor at a time when the economy’s growing at its slowest pace in a quarter-century and a weakening yuan may curb enthusiasm for foreign wares, the report said.

“Alibaba will likely break another Singles’ Day sales record this year as bargain-seeking Chinese consumers again flex their spending muscle and shrug off any concerns there may be about China’s slowing economy,” said Andria Cheng, an eMarketer analyst.

“Many foreign brands, with and without local China presence, will use this shopping event to further raise their brand profile with Chinese consumers.”

Alibaba posted US$1 billion of sales in the first five minutes on Friday, and within two hours had already recorded transactions amounting to half of last year’s total.

The best-selling items included Apple Inc. phones, Nike and Adidas gear and Haier appliances, the company said on its official blog.

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CG

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