retail news in context, analysis with attitude

China-based Alibaba Group’s annual Singles Day holiday generated $30.8 billion in sales on November 11, up from the record $25.3 billion that it generated last year.

Alibaba is not a retailer, but rather a platform on which retailers sell their wares, and so the Singles Day benefits were felt by a number of companies.

The New York Times writes that “China’s biggest online shopping company kicked off the country’s biggest shopping day with its usual ostentation. Its Saturday night gala event in Shanghai featured the singer Mariah Carey, the retired basketball star Allen Iverson and Miranda Kerr, the Australian supermodel. A Chinese girl group performed a song called ‘Wanna Buy Wanna Buy’ as backup dancers pushed shopping carts bearing the logo of Aldi, the German discount grocer.”

CNN writes that “the shopping extravaganza regularly racks up bigger sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. But this year's Singles Day comes as Alibaba’s growth is coming under pressure from China's slowing economy, new rivals in the e-commerce industry and the trade war with the United States."

And Bloomberg writes that “with a brewing trade war, a cooling economy and rising competition from smaller platforms such as JD.com Inc. and Pinduoduo Inc., Alibaba is seeking to add new growth engines. The retail celebration on Nov. 11 dedicated to the nation’s unattached has become an important bellwether not just for the company, but also the world’s No. 2 economy.”

It wasn’t just Alibaba and its retailers that benefitted. TechCrunch writes that while Alibaba “may have pioneered the concept of Singles’ Day … JD.com, Alibaba’s biggest rival in China, just announced that it sold RMB 159.8 billion ($23 billion) in goods for its Singles’ Day campaign.

“Unlike Alibaba, which racked up $31 billion in GMV in the 24-hour sale on November 11, JD’s festival ran for 11 days starting on November 1. That said, a large chunk of Alibaba’s sales are queued up in the days ahead of November 11 as retailers aggressively push deals, but JD is more open about its shopping period beyond the core 24 hours.”
KC's View:
Things may tighten down the road, but it remains extraordinary to contemplate what Alibaba has done here, essentially creating an enormous sales driver out of thin air. They’re really smart, and I have to think that they’ll continue to grow and innovate.

One can only imagine the impact it would have if it decided to have any sort of major presence in the US.