China's craziest shopping day could top $20bn

Investors are keeping a close eye on the annual November 11 spending blitz that dwarfs Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the USA, to see if Alibaba can reprise the 60 percent leap in transactions to 91.2 billion yuan it managed past year. Headphone maker Beats by Dr. Dre, owned by Apple Inc., is promoting its new Solo 3 Wireless product for Singles' Day.

Singles Day gets its name from the loneliest number. Among the stocks gearing up for the shopping frenzy is Chinese e-tailer Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA). Commonly referred to in China as Singles' Day, the annual anti-Valentine's celebration sees many online retailers slash prices resulting in a consumption frenzy.

Today China's shoppers will once again fire up their favourite shopping apps in pursuit of discounts - some modest, some huge - available only online for the duration of the 24-hour shopfest.

"But this event is not just about one performer it's about a lot of global stars coming together to celebrate Singles' Day".

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That doesn't include all the goods people bought on rival stores like JD, Amazon China, or literally hundreds of smaller sites and apps. This is up from 27 merchants in 2009, when Alibaba launched the event.

The figures are even more impressive considering that the concept of "Singles Day" was only founded a few years ago. The day is similar to Black Friday and Cyber Monday in America, so it's a pretty big deal. Payments processor Worldpay said it handled an average of more than 9,000 transactions per minute globally during last year's Singles Day. For example, more than 250 USA brands and retailers, including luxury shoe brand Jimmy Choo, online marketplace (now owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc.), and Neiman Marcus worked with Chinese deal site to sell directly to Chinese consumers with specific Singles' Day online coupons.

The e-commerce platform also aims to sell goods to other places besides the Chinese mainland, such as Hong Kong and Taiwan. "It's no longer just a one-day online shopping festival, with retailers introducing promotions that start before and end after November 11", said Wang Xiaofeng, a senior analyst at Forrester Research.

  • Darren Santiago