Known as Singles Day, the clamour for deals and discounts was heralded with characteristic fanfare by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which has turned an unofficial holiday for people without romantic partners into a yearly windfall for digital retailers. Items selling well included smartphones and other electronics, but also staples such as milk powder and diapers. Singles Day looks set to grow and grow and is already the world's biggest shopping event. Pre-sales prior to the event were brisk, with 33 brands on Tmall reporting 100 million-yuan worth of pre-orders, the company said. The 24-hour sale had managed gross sales to the tune of $25 billion previous year. "Steep discounts on the Tmall Genie smart speaker during Singles' Day past year, as well as the introduction of lower-priced mini versions of several smart speakers in early 2018, were key in accelerating growth".
The spending binge has for years eclipsed Cyber Monday in the US for online purchases made on a single day.
Alibaba kicks off the annual event with a gala, which this year featured USA singer Mariah Carey, a Japanese Beyonce impersonator and a shoe-shopping-themed Cirque du Soleil performance.
Ren Xiaotong, a 27-year-old accountant in Beijing, said she suspected online stores jacked up their prices in the lead-up to Singles Day so they could declare that items were discounted. "It's when retailers use the best products and best prices to show their gratitude to our consumers".
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The November sale event is expected to founder Jack Ma's last at the helm of the company. Current chief executive Daniel Zhang will take over as chairman next year, the company said in September.
This is huge for the e-commerce platform, and it had racked in over $1 billion in just a minute and 25 seconds.
While sales growth remains steady, Alibaba's stock has dropped 16 percent this year amid economic uncertainties rising out of trade tensions between China and the United States. The sale is a one-day long event. Alibaba's Tmall hosts a national television gala on November 10 with a countdown to the midnight start of Singles' Day that gives the event a New Year's Eve at Times Square feel.
"Having said that, there are more consumers who still enjoy shopping at double 11 than those that don't", he said.