Forget Black Friday. The Q4 sales event to watch is Singles’ Day, which continues to break records.
Alibaba reported a 39 percent year-on-year spike in gross merchandise volume through Alipay on Nov. 11. The $25.3 billion total is a new record for the shopping holiday. Sales hit the $1 billion mark just two minutes and one second into the event. Compare that to the $3.34 billion in sales U.S. retailers generated on Black Friday last year.
Singles’ Day, or 11.11 as it’s known, launched in 2009. At the time, only 27 merchants participated. This year, more than 140,000 brands and merchants were on board.
For the second year, Alibaba kicked off the shopping event with a televised and live-streamed gala featuring 27 brands offering exclusive product and enhanced VR experiences.
Ninety percent of transactions took place via the company’s Alipay payment solution, up from 82 percent last year. At its peak, Alibaba Cloud processed 325,000 orders per second across 225 countries and regions.
Six merchants sold more than $150.9 million on the site while another 17 sold in excess of $75.4 million.
The festival saw 60,000 of international brands vying for Chinese sales, with Japan, the U.S., Australia, Germany and South Korea racking up the most transactions.
CEO Daniel Zhang said the sales figures underscore the opportunities that exist in the Chinese market. “It represents the aspiration for quality consumption of the Chinese consumer, and it reflects how merchants and consumers alike have now fully embraced the integration of online and offline retail,” he said.
This year, Alibaba used Singles’ Day to highlight its New Retail initiative, which seeks to tie online and offline more closely. To that end, the festivities included 60 pop-ups as well as tech features in 100,000 stores throughout the country.
[Read more about the scope of Alibaba’s Singles’ Day: Alibaba’s 11.11 Festival Focused on Omnichannel, International Gains]
Alibaba competitor JD.com reported $19.1 billion in sales, a 50 percent year-on-year increase. The company’s festival sales include transactions from the start of the sale on Nov. 1 through 11.11.
The site moved more than 400,000 watches, 55 million face masks, 20 million kilograms of rice and 1.5 billion diapers. Sales for activewear brands like Columbia and North Face reportedly increased by 800 percent and 400 percent, respectively.