Alibaba hits $13.2b in Double 11 sales
YESTERDAY was supposed to be a day to celebrate singlehood in China, as a parody to Valentine's Day, with the four digits of the number one symbolising the state of being unattached.
But looking at the volumes of goods sold online at prices drastically marked down for the day, one would think Double 11 - also known as Single's Day - was again a nationwide shopping carnival, like it had been in the past six years, Chinese media reported.
All eyes were on Alibaba, China's biggest online retailer, whose sales surpassed US$9.3 billion (S$13.2 billion) just 12 hours into the day, smashing its Double 11 record for last year, reported the Chinese edition of the BBC.
In fact, in just the first 90 minutes, transactions at Alibaba already exceeded US$5 billion, with the first US$1 billion chalked up in the first eight minutes, said BBC.
On a normal day, Alibaba accounts for about 80 per cent of China's Internet shopping.
Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang had earlier said that mobile phone users would receive surprise offers on an hourly basis throughout yesterday.
More than 27 million Chinese tend to shop using their mobile phones, according to the company.
Amid talk that China's economy is facing downward pressure, Jack Ma, Alibaba's chairman, told China's official CCTV yesterday with overflowing optimism that Chinese consumption has not reached its fullest potential yet.
"The domestic demand still remains largely untapped. This is where China's biggest economic opportunity lies," said Mr Ma, who founded Alibaba.
The compnay is also setting up its second headquarters in Beijing, aiming to expand its market in northern China, where its fiercest rival Jingdong Mall has a strong foothold, reported financial news website FX678.
That explains why Alibaba kicked off this year's Double 11 with a gala in the Chinese capital on Tuesday night, instead of sticking to just a countdown in Hangzhou in the south-east.
The gala featured many foreign celebrities, including James Bond actor Daniel Craig, Kevin Spacey of House of Cards fame and South Korean pop icon Rain.
According to FX678, China's per capita disposable income rose 7.7 per cent in the first nine months of this year, compared with the same period last year, exceeding the country's 6.9 per cent growth in gross domestic product.