Alibaba has sold $2 billion of goods in the first hour of China’s annual Singles’ Day (Guanggun Jie).
That compares with $3.1 billion in sales seen in the first half of last year’s event.
Singles’ Day is celebrated each year on November 11 (11/11). The date is chosen for the connection between singles and the number “1”. In recognition of the day, young singles organize parties and Karaoke to meet new friends or try their fortunes.
Singles’ Day is considered the world’s biggest online retail sales day. It compares with Cyber Monday in the US – the day after Thanksgiving also marketed as a big online shopping day.
Alibaba said it expected to break sales records during the annual event, offering big discounts to boost sales.
“I bet the number [of goods bought] is going to be scary,” said Alibaba’s executive chairman Jack Ma last week. He estimated that 200 million packages would be shipped from orders made during the day.
Last year, Alibaba shipped more than 150 million packages worth about $5.75 billion in gross merchandise volume.
Before midday on November 11, sales had already hit $4.9 billion, Jack Ma told official state broadcaster CCTV.
Singles’ Day in China was adopted by Alibaba in 2009 to boost sales, but dates back to at least 1993, when students at Nanjing University are believed to have chosen the date as an anti-Valentine’s Day where single people could buy things for themselves.
Since then, it has gone on to become a massive day of sales for China’s fast growing e-commerce market.
The market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 25% over the next few years, from $390 billion in 2014 to $718 billion in 2017, according to a recent study released by management consulting firm AT Kearney.
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