Alibaba posts record sales for Singles Day shopping event in China

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Alibaba has reported record sales during its annual event on Singles Day, an unofficial holiday in China in which the e-commerce giant holds a 11-day-long, shopping event said to be the world’s largest.

The company said its total gross merchandise volume reached 540.3bn yuan (£63bn) in the first 11 days of November, when the event was held. This marked a roughly 14 per cent increase from last year.

Alibaba said nearly 400 brands, including Apple and L’Oreal, raked in more than 94m yuan (£11m) in sales each by mid-day on Thursday.

The figures come after subdued sales projections were forecast for this year as overall consumption in China has gone down.

Asia’s largest economy has been grappling with supply shortages, an ongoing energy crisis and government crackdowns on sectors like infrastructure and tech, of which Alibaba has also been a target.

The extravagant sales festival during Singles Day was started by Alibaba in 2009, after which it went on to become the world’s biggest online sales festival, surpassing Cyber Monday in the US.

The company offers its best deals on a range of products in two sale periods, the first of which is between 1 and 3 November and the next on 11 November.

The festival is closely watched as an indicator of consumer appetite in China and is said to be one of the indicators of the online shopping giant’s performance.

Considering the pandemic and a rough patch that the company has been going through, this year’s record sales figures are a positive sign.

The festival, which is usually highly publicised every year, had its advertising toned down this time because of strict government guidelines.

Alibaba, instead, publicised its social welfare initiatives ahead of the sale.

The ecommerce giant has gone through a turbulent period, after the company’s founder Jack Ma criticised China’s regulatory framework.

A series of crackdowns, including a hefty £1.4bn fine for monopolistic behaviour, forced Ma to go out of public sight. However, the company is rebuilding its ties with the government and the business tycoon has been spotted recently carrying out meetings.