Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba lapped up over 91 billion yuan (USD 13.14 billion) of gross merchandise volume (GMV) in just a little over one hour into its annual Single's Day shopping extravaganza, setting the retailer firmly on track for a new record in sales volume this year.
While the company surpassed last year's sales just before 4pm, the rate is slower than last year when it broke the 2016 record around four hours earlier at midday. "I don't think this will happen".
Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma was present at the gala night for countdown to the Global Shopping Festival 11.11 in Shanghai.
But surely Singles' Day can't be bigger than Black Friday, right?
Alibaba kicked off this year's sales with a gala event that featured U.S. singer Mariah Carey, a Japanese Beyonce impersonator and a shoe-shopping-themed Cirque du Soleil performance. "It's when retailers use the best products and best prices to show their gratitude to our consumers". Alibaba's founder Jack Ma also attended the event. The company is focusing on the 300 million Chinese people who are expected to enter the ranks of the middle class over the next five years, Evans said.
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Chinese e-commerce platforms have come under fire in the past for peddling low-quality and counterfeit items.
Health supplements topped the list of most popular imported items purchased by consumers in China as of 12pm, followed by milk powder, facial masks and milk powder, according to Alibaba.
Analysts said the sales continue to be cannibalised by competing events, including the "618" festival spearheaded by Alibaba competitor JD.com Inc in June.
The occasion also has big environmental implications. Alibaba has said that it wants to take the show aboard at some point.
Earlier this month it revised down its full-year sales outlook by 4-6 percent, sending further chills through the company's stock price, which has dropped roughly 16% this year after nearly doubling in 2017. To compensate, the company will take in less income from its platforms in the near term in order to retain brands and new buyers, it said.