Alibaba Group Holding Inc. reported sales of 158.31 billion yuan ($22.63 billion) for the first nine hours of its annual Singles’ Day shopping festival. The sales were 25%, or 126.72 billion yuan higher than the previous year.
The annual Singles’ Day is likened to the United States’ Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, and has been promoted by Alibaba Chairman and Chief Executive Daniel Zhang since 2009. The shopping fest is growing rapidly to become the biggest online sales event worldwide.
The shopping fest’s name comes from the date November 11, or 11/11, which signifies being single. It is also popularly known as “Double Eleven”.
Last year, Alibaba achieved a net profit of $30 billion on its Singles’ Day. However, the 27% sales growth was the lowest since the shopping fest’s first year, prompting Alibaba to look for new ideas.
This year’s 24-hour shopping fest was kicked off with performances by Taylor Swift and local celebrities. Alibaba hit $1 billion in the first one minute and eight seconds of the shopping fest. In the first hour, it reached 84 billion yuan, 22% higher than previous year’s 69 billion yuan.
Singles’ Day was among the trending topics on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, where users talked about what they bought and where they spent their money on.
The Chinese e-commerce giant said it expects 500 million users to participate in this year’s shopping fest, 100 million more compared to the previous year.
This year is the first time that Alibaba won’t have its co-founder Jack Ma, after resigning as chairman in September. This month is reported to be a crucial time for the company as it is raising $15 billion via a share sale in Hong Kong.
Alibaba continues to dominate the online market, with more shoppers surging to their online shopping platforms. Currently, the Chinese retail juggernaut is worth $486 billion since its foundation in 1999.