Alibaba Singles’ Day: World’s Largest Shopping Blitz Rakes in $75 Billion

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    Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. posted sales of $75 billion during the world’s largest shopping binge, wrapping up an annual frenzy of Chinese consumption that this year was overshadowed by escalating regulatory scrutiny over the country’s giant internet sector. Sales during the Singles’ Day festival totaled 498.2 billion yuan at the end of Nov. 11, easily surpassing 2019’s $38 billion official tally after Alibaba added several days and additional services to the count for the first time. Unlike past years, Alibaba didn’t provide detailed breakdowns about what got sold apart from tidbits like the fact its Tmall platform logged 583,000 orders in one second at its peak. Investors watched Alibaba’s bargains bonanza for signs that Chinese consumers were raring to fire up the country’s post-pandemic recovery. But the headline numbers took a backseat to concerns that regulators are seeking to curtail the growing influence of Alibaba and other Chinese internet leaders. Shares of Alibaba, the largest of the country’s tech firms, plunged 9.8% in Hong Kong Wednesday, taking losses to more than $115 billion since Beijing this week unveiled new antitrust regulations governing the sector’s dominant players. Singles’ Day debuted in 2009 and has grown over a decade into a nationwide marathon of frantic bargain-hunting that dwarfs sales events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday in both intensity and size. 2020’s edition features a record number of brand names from Apple to Nike betting that — after months of Covid-enforced abstention — China’s 400 million-strong middle class is ready to spend on everything from Hainan beach-side vacations to takeaway coupons and electronics. Alibaba has been benefiting after the pandemic forced Chinese consumers — who already buy about 30% of the nation’s retail purchases online — to accelerate their shift to e-commerce. Homebound consumers turned grocery delivery into the industry’s hottest arena, anchoring an unprecedented surge in online activity during the nationwide lockdown. Domestic travel is accelerating, propping up Alibaba businesses such as Fliggy, while a raft of new smartphones launched during the quarter is expected to tap pent-up demand for electronics. “We are seeing Chinese customers releasing the strong consumption demand during the event,” Liu Bo, general manager of Tmall marketing and operations. Core consumers, the country’s middle class, have demonstrated a solid appetite for shopping as a way to compensate for not being able to travel overseas, he added. The strong start to this year’s sales fiesta — also known as “Double 11” — may bode well for China’s economy, providing further evidence that consumer spending, so far a laggard in the recovery, is strengthening. “Double 11 has historically served as a very accurate indicator for what’s happening in the following year for retailers, brands as well as consumers,” said Jonathan Cheng, head of China retail at Bain & Co. “For this year, with Covid, it’ll become more important. And if you look at China, which is the first one to be coming out of Covid, it’s gonna be an indicator for other countries as well.” The brainchild of co-founder Jack Ma and Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang, Single’s Day was intended to be an antidote to the sentimentality of Valentine’s Day. It takes its name from the way the day is written numerically as 11/11, which resembles “bare branches,” a local expression for the unattached. Along the way, the company created the world’s largest shopping festival that has helped to propel Alibaba into a Goliath. It’s also become an annual showcase for Alibaba’s cloud services as well as affiliate Ant Group Co.’s Alipay mobile wallet. A record event would be another feather in the cap for Ant, which could do with a win after tightening regulatory scrutiny that torpedoed its initial public offering last week. Subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2TwO8Gm Bloomberg Quicktake brings you live global news and original shows spanning business, technology, politics and culture. Make sense of the stories changing your business and your world. To watch complete coverage on Bloomberg Quicktake 24/7, visit http://www.bloomberg.com/qt/live, or watch on Apple TV, Roku, Samsung Smart TV, Fire TV and Android TV on the Bloomberg app. Connect with us on… YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Bloomberg Breaking News on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/BloombergQuickTakeNews Twitter: https://twitter.com/quicktake Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/quicktake Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/quicktake

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