retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Time reports that Alibaba Group, the Chinese e-tailing portal, did more than $1 billion in sales in just the first eight minutes of its "Singles Day" promotion yesterday, with the company saying that the day's total take "exceeded last year’s total $9.3 billion in just half the time."

The story notes that "what began in the early 1990s as an annual celebration of China’s bachelors is now synonymous with retail therapy in the world’s most populous country. In 2009, Alibaba used its online store TMall to reinvent the day as China’s answer to Black Friday or Cyber Monday — the days flanking the weekend after Thanksgiving, when stores across the U.S. and other Western countries use hefty discounts to lure massive waves of shoppers."

By comparison, last year's Cyber Monday sales in the US were $1.35 billion.
KC's View:
I was intrigued in reading the Singles Day stories the degree to which the company tapped into western cultural icons to promote the sale - both Kevin Spacey, in his Frank Underwood/"House of Cards" persona, and James Bond star Daniel Craig were used to give the promotion a push. (Numerous stories about the new Bond movie, Spectre have pointed out that the movie, which cost $250 million to make and will require $650 million in ticket sales to turn a profit, will almost certainly be propelled over the finish line by the Chinese box office.)

I'm not sure that Singles Day will ever become a major shopping event in the west ... but I wouldn't bet against it. Just because it hasn't been one to this point doesn't mean that a major online presence like Alibaba couldn't turn it into one.