BEIJING: Chinese shoppers unleashed a record deluge of cash online for Singles Day on Friday, Alibaba said, spending almost $18 billion with the e-commerce giant in the world’s biggest online shopping promotion.
Singles’ Day — named for the repeated digit 1 in the date November 11 — was created by Alibaba in 2009.
Now in just 24 hours it surpasses the main US online spending spree, the five days from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday.
Gross merchandise volume, Alibaba’s key measure of online sales, was 120.7 billion yuan ($17.8 billion) this year — more than the GDP of Jamaica and well up from 91.2 billion yuan in 2015.
Consumers spent more than $1 billion in the first five minutes of the sales, the firm said.
Rival e-commerce giant JD.com, which focuses more on electronics, said its sales total — which it did not specify — surpassed last year’s figure at 1:33 pm.
Some shoppers stayed up until midnight to purchase discounted goods the moment Singles Day got under way.
Among them was Shanghai white-collar worker Chen Yang, 29, who tried to buy things she had her eyes on earlier and spent about 1,000 yuan on purchases from shoes to shampoo.
“I’m so happy after I finished my shopping, though I still need to pay my credit card later,” she said. “But I’m just so looking forward to getting my packages now.”
In the US, total online sales for the five days from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday last year stood at $11.1 billion, according to Adobe Digital Index.
Alibaba’s New York-listed stock has been buoyant this year in spite of worries over slowing growth in China, as consumer spending has expanded while the old industrial economy struggles due to overcapacity and sluggish demand.
China’s economy expanded at its slowest rate in a quarter of a century last year and has eased further this year, as Beijing tries to shift growth drivers from investment and exports to domestic consumption.