Alibaba Singles’ Day sales hit USD 12 billion within first hour: Report

E-commerce giant Alibaba kicked off its 24-hour shopping mega-event on Monday. The Chinese e-commerce giant said on Monday that sales for its annual Singles' Day shopping blitz hit 84 billion yuan ($12 billion) within the first hour, up 22% from last year's early haul of 69 billion yuan, reported Reuters.

The shopping festival, also known as Double 11, is referred as Singles' Day because its date, 11/11 (November 11) consists of four 'ones', representing four singles. The event, which began in 2009 with a total of USD 7.8 million in GMV, raked in a record USD 30.8 billion in GMV in 2018. More than 22,000 international brands from over 78 countries and regions will participate in this year's 11.11 on Tmall Global, Alibaba's dedicated channel for cross-border e-commerce.

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According to Reuters, Alibaba saw sales worth $30 billion on its platforms on Singles' Day last year, dwarfing $7.9 billion US online sales for Cyber Monday. Yet the 27% sales growth was the lowest in the event's 10-year history, spurring a search for fresh ideas.

The $486 billion Chinese retail juggernaut kicked off this year's 24-hour shopping fest with performances by American pop star Taylor Swift and local celebrities like Jackson Yee. This is the first time Alibaba's Singles' Day does not have flamboyant co-founder Jack Ma at its helm, after he resigned in September as chairman.

The 11.11 event serves as a gateway to China for international brands and merchants looking to tap into China's market and purchasing power of Chinese consumers, Alibaba said. Daraz Group, owned by Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd, first brought 11.11 to South Asia last year and is gearing up again with celebrations in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Nepal. India will celebrate 11.11 with the UC Shopping Festival in association with Paytm, VMate and 9Apps.