The biggest shopping day on the planet has started with a bang.
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba (BABA) said Sunday that sales soared past $1 billion after just one minute and 25 seconds of the online retail blitz known as Singles Day.
The shopping extravanganza regularly racks up bigger sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. But this year’s Singles Day comes as Alibaba’s growth is coming under pressure from China’s slowing economy, new rivals in the e-commerce industry and the trade war with the United States.
Alibaba cut its annual revenue forecast by as much as 6% earlier this month.
“It is possible that there will be a slowdown in growth for Singles Day sales, given that they have had exponential growth in the past,” Xiaofeng Wang, an analyst with research firm Forrester, said ahead of the event. “As the festival matures and becomes more established, we can expect the growth rate to slow down.”
Singles Day is an informal holiday in China celebrating people not in relationships. Its date — November 11, or 11/11— is meant to symbolize singletons.
Alibaba started offering Singles Day discounts in 2009 and has since turned the day into a 24-hour bonanza of online shopping in China.
Other Chinese e-commerce platforms like JD.com and regular brick-and-mortar stores also take part, and the event is starting to gain traction outside China. Alibaba’s Southeast Asia subsidiary Lazada will offer Singles Day discounts in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
But Alibaba’s Singles Day event in China is by far the splashiest.
International companies flock to Alibaba’s celebrity-studded live telecast and its various online platforms, eager to hawk everything from liquor to sports cars.
Imported goods make up a significant amount of sales. A recent survey from research firm Oliver Wyman found that 57% of consumers expect to buy overseas goods during the event.
Japan, the United States and Australia were the top three countries from which Singles Day shoppers bought products last year.
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