Alibaba Group (BABA) raked in over $25 billion during Singles’ Day, smashing last year’s record and defying concerns of an economic slowdown in China.
In a statement, the Chinese e-commerce giant confirmed that gross merchandise volume (GMV) during the 24-hour event reached $25.3 billion, up 39 percent on last year’s haul of $18 billion and exceeding Citigroup Inc. estimates. By midnight on Saturday, Alibaba had handled 1.48 billion transactions and shipped more than 777 million parcels. At its peak, the company’s processors handled 256,000 transactions per second.
Put into context, those figures show that Singles’ Day, which was initially set up by bachelor university students as an anti-Valentine’s celebration in the 1990s, is the world’s biggest shopping event by quite some margin. Last year, U.S. retailers pulled in a record $3 billion on Black Friday and $3.45 billion on Cyber Monday, figures that come nowhere near what Alibaba achieved during Singles’ Day.
"More than $25 billion of GMV in one day is not just a sales figure," said Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba. "It represents the aspiration for quality consumption of the Chinese consumer, and it reflects how merchants and consumers alike have now fully embraced the integration of online and offline retail." The company added that nine out of 10 purchases were made using mobile phones. (See also: Alibaba (BABA) Beats on Q2 Earnings, Revenues Increase Y/Y)
Zhang’s confidence that strong Chinese consumption patterns are here to stay was seconded by Joe Tsai, chairman of the Chinese tech giant. “What’s behind all this is the power of the Chinese consumer,” he said, according to the Financial Times. “There’s a middle class of over 300 million and every year their disposable income increases.”
The Financial Times also reported that Alibaba’s takings from this year’s Singles’ Day event were likely to be whittled down by consumers returning goods. The company expects returns to be less than 10 percent and acknowledged that sales have dipped slightly following the completion of Singles’ Day.
Alibaba, which expects total group revenues to rise between 49 percent and 53 percent this year, added that consumers from all over the world took part in Singles’ Day in 2017. Aside from China, the biggest spenders were from Japan, the United States, Australia, Germany and South Korea.