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Alibaba Singles Day Shopping Event Breaks Past Sales Records

Alibaba Singles Day Shopping Event Breaks Past Sales Records

Steven Benjamin, Anchor Research

Alibaba’s Singles Day is an annual online 24-hour sale in China that was in the past held only on 11 November (11/11), but this year took place from 1 to 12 November. The event broke previous years’ records and attracted more luxury brands, which had in the past been reluctant to join the discounted shopping festival, fearing damage to their reputation. However, with overall global luxury goods sales down due to COVID-19 and Chinese shoppers comprising a large percentage of global luxury buyers, more high-end brands joined this year’s event.
 
According to Alibaba, 2020’s total gross merchandise value (GMV) was RMB498.2bn (c. $75.0bn) – a significant outperformance vs 2019’s sales record of $38bn, as e-commerce again showed its resilience and strength during the pandemic, with the event’s success also indicating a strong recovery in Chinese retail spending. As a comparison, Singles Day usually generates more sales than the US’ Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping days combined, while Amazon’s Prime Day sales event this year reported $10.4bn in GBV, according to data from Statista.
 
Chinese consumers bought US brands to the value of $5.4bn, making American brands the biggest international sellers. More than 250,000 brands took part, of which 31,000 were foreign brands. Around 800mn shoppers participated and, at its peak, the number of orders reached a staggering 583,000/second.
 
Looking at the most popular products, Chinese consumers spent more on domestic goods, especially technology products, while foreign health and beauty products also sold well. With COVID-19 curtailing travel and preventing wealthy Chinese consumers from buying luxury goods when traveling to Europe and the US, these consumers turned to ecommerce for their luxury goods purchases.
 
Alibaba’s logistics business, Cainiao commissioned over 3,000 chartered flights and long-haul cargo ships to bring foreign goods to China. Cainiao also flew over 700 chartered flights to deliver orders outside of China and secured 10,000-plus mobile lockers in China so customers could pick up purchases without human contact. In total, Cainiao said that it processed 2.32bn delivery orders over the 11-day period.
 
Written exclusively for Moore South Africa by Steven Benjamin from Anchor Research.