Alibaba’s ‘Singles Day’ surpasses Black Friday with $8 billion in sales

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By MarketWatch

NEW YORK — China’s anti–Valentine’s Day has handily surpassed the U.S.’ s Black Friday as the world’s most lucrative online shopping day, and it is well on its way to becoming the most profitable manufactured holiday in history.

Alibaba Group BABA, -1.46% the largest e-commerce company in China, surpassed more than $2 billion in sales volume processed through payments app Alipay within the first hour and 11 seconds of Nov. 11. As of Tuesday morning (around 9 pm local time in Hangzhou China, where Alibaba is headquartered) sales had surpassed $8 billion, with 42.9% generated from mobile, according to Alibaba. Locally, there are still three hours left in the day.

Known as “Singles Day” in China, the holiday was invented by Alibaba in 2009 as a play on a two-decades-old celebration of China’s bachelors. Since then, Alibaba’s Singles Day sales have grown at a meteoric pace, skyrocketing a whopping 5,740% from 2009 to 2013.

Alibaba, which heavily promotes Singles Day, had expected to ring up 50 billion yuan, or a record $8.2 billion, for the day. Industry tracker IDC said it was “very likely” Alibaba would reach $8.65 billion, up from $5.75 billion in 2013, $3.04 billion in 2012 and $820 million in 2011. That would make Singles Day one of the most successful — and lucrative — manufactured holidays in history.

As the day neared close in China, Alibaba said total gross merchandise volume had exceeded 2013 desktop online sales from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday 2013.

More than 200 million logistics orders have been placed.

Originally called “Bachelors Day,” the holiday was invented in the 1990s as a sort of response to Valentine’s Day. Alibaba took the reins in 2009, encouraging retailers to offer steep discounts in what would eventually morph into a weeks-long shopping event that peaks on Nov. 11.

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