Alibaba Singles' Day tops $30bn but growth rate plunges

Alibaba Singles' Day tops $30bn but growth rate plunges

Shoppers in China have once again broken records after spending more than $14bn within the first two hours of an annual online buying frenzy.

The Alibaba Group's various shopping platforms broke the 10 billion-yuan ($1.44 billion) sales threshold within the first two minutes and five seconds, after the e-commerce giant kicked off the 10th year of its iconic Double 11 shopping gala (also called 11.11 sale). This year's November 11 gala offers a glimpse of consumer sentiment in China as US tensions and a tit-for-tat tariff war depress stock markets and threaten to dampen the world's No. 2 economy.

Just before 4:00pm on Sunday, about 16 hours into the event, the sales reached $33.5 billion - surpassing the total purchases from last year's Singles Day, according to figures posted online by Alibaba Group. The company surpassed the 100 billion yuan mark less than 2 hours into Singles' Day, according to Alibaba's news website.

Singles Day "is not a day of discounts, but rather a day of gratitude", he said in the video.

And while Evans and Alibaba are confident about Singles Day and Alibaba's role in the future of commerce, reports of a slowing economy in China loom large.

More than 180,000 Chinese and global brands helped celebrate the 10th 11/11 shopping spree, which also featured televised entertainment from names such as Cirque du Soleil and Mariah Carey.

This is also likely to be Alibaba's last November sale event with founder and chairman Jack Ma at its helm.

Alibaba was crucial in making Singles' Day, previously an obscure holiday observed by just a handful of companies, a massive cultural phenomenon over the last decade.

While not an exact match, Alibaba's Singles' Day is similar to Amazon's Prime Day in many ways.

"Singles' Day has now become a stage for Alibaba to showcase its capabilities across all its platforms", Daniel Zhang, chief executive officer, said at an October news conference in Beijing.

While both Alibaba and competitor JD.com have pledged to use biodegradable packaging to cut down on waste, research conducted this month by Greenpeace East Asia said many plastics marked "biodegradable" and used by Chinese e-retailers can break down only under high temperatures in facilities that are limited in number across the country.

Still, there's some uncertainty this year, as the trade war and deflating asset values threaten to disrupt economic growth. To compensate, the company will take in less income from its platforms in the near term in order to retain brands and new buyers, it said.

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