$20 billion spent within first hour of Singles' Day

Alibaba's annual shopping extravaganza is equivalent to Black Friday or Cyber Monday in the United States, though its frequently raked up sales bigger than all of these days combined.

And just within the first hour, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba said it had racked up a staggering 13 billion US dollars in sales on its tenth annual Single's Day event.

JD.com, which holds an 11-day promotion ending at midnight on November 11, said total sales had reached US$23.7 billion by yesterday morning, with hours to go, surpassing the US$22.4 billion reached for the entire 11-day stretch past year.

The Chinese retail juggernaut, with a market value of $486 billion (roughly Rs. 34,70,000 crores), kicked off this year's 24-hour shopping fest with performances by American pop star Taylor Swift and local celebrities such as Jackson Yee.

Almost 1,000 foreign web celebrities broadcast live to all parts of the world 24 hours a day in dozens of languages, which has been considered as a remarkable role in stimulating global consumers' shopping desires. Last year, Alibaba reported a 27% uptick in Singles Day revenue.

Opening sales were brisk, hitting US$10 billion in just under 30 minutes, half the time from the previous year.

Alibaba's annual shopping extravaganza is equivalent to Black Friday or Cyber Monday in the US. Citic Securities had forecast sales to rise 20 to 25 percent this year.

More than 17,000 brands began livestreaming on the first day of pre-sales across multiple categories-from beauty, fashion and home appliances to cars and movie tickets. Estée Lauder brought in $143 million in sales of its products and consumers in China bought $14 million worth of iPhone 11s.

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Mondelez - the parent company of Oreo - debuted a fun-size Oreos packet with assorted nuts and raisins, in collaboration with Alibaba's Tmall Innovation Center.

"We made this year's Double 11 (11.11 campaign) become the largest platform to launch new products".

"And, I think, many leading brands from the USA are doing particularly well this year", he said.

This major shift in consumption toward higher ticket items such as health and wellness products and travel means that people in lower-tier cities are increasingly seeking an upgrade in quality of life and experience, and this represents a lucrative opportunity for well-established brands, she said. The company said later sales were up 86% over 2018's Singles Day but gave no total.

The new records reflect China's rising economic strength, as well as the benefits of technology development and global trade, said Zhou Mi, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation affiliated to the Ministry of Commerce. The 24-hour-long frenzied buying saw the company set quite a few records.

Prior to the beginning of the festival on Monday, 64 brands, including Apple, Dyson, Lancome and L'Oreal, had already achieved 100 million yuan in pre-orders, Alibaba said. This year, the Hangzhou-headquartered firm has also focused on live-streaming via its platform, a phenomenon that has gained significant traction in China. It has partnered with Kuaishou and Douyin, two popular Chinese video apps, to help it broadcast product promotions, and in the run-up to the show even roped in USA celebrity entrepreneur Kim Kardashian, who launched a Tmall stream to promote her KKW line of beauty products. It is now among the world's most valuable companies. The figure is two thirds of last year's final tally of US$30.8 billion.

Rivals including JD.com, China's biggest online direct retailer, and electronics seller Suning joined in.

Like Alibaba, JD.com and Pinduoduo also host similar campaigns each year. This model has also been replicated by Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart in India, Qoo10 in Singapore and 11th Street in South Korea.

  • Darren Santiago