Despite an initially promising display of consumer purchasing, Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma said the company’s Singles Day performance failed to fulfill expectations. Ma implicated hot weather and the fact that the massive shopping event fell on a weekday for the less than expected performance.
While it failed to meet expectations however, the Chinese e-commerce giant, totaled a gross merchandise value (GMV) of 268.4 billion yuan or over $38.3 billion, setting a new record. The GMV is used to measure sales across its shopping platforms.
Singles Day is an casual, anti-Valentine’s Day holiday celebrated in China for people who aren’t in relationships. The date of November 11 was selected because the date is written as four ones, or singles.
Alibaba began offering Singles Day discounts in 2009 and has since transformed the day into a 24-hour bonanza of online shopping in China.
Other Chinese e-commerce platforms like JD.com and traditional brick-and-mortar stores also now take part in Singles Day, which has begun to gain traction outside China as well. Alibaba’s Southeast Asia subsidiary Lazada offers Singles Day discounts in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Now a variety of retail brands such as Nike and Brooks Brothers are offering Singles Day discounts on their websites in the United States.
“Singles Day is being held up as a bellwether of Chinese consumers’ willingness to spend in the face of a domestic slowdown” wrote Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst for Asia Pacific at Oanda, in a note Monday. But “deeply discounting prices always brings consumers out to play, no matter how bad the economy might be,” he added.
Albibab generated an incredible $13 billion in just one hour, a 32% increase from first-hour sales the year prior and nearly twice Amazon’s estimated sales during Prime Day in July. While Amazon does not reveal total sales from Prime Day, simply saying it was “once again the largest shopping event in Amazon history” with more sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2018 combined, Internet Retailer estimated that Amazon generated $7.16 billion globally during the 48-hour period between July 15 and July 16.
In aggregate, Alibaba’s performance numbers outpaced analyst estimates for upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in the US. Now in its 10th year, the Chinese shopping bonanza continues to attract significant business and solidify Alibaba as a dominant force in the e-commerce industry.
“We continue to feel very confident about the growth potential of the economy,” Alibaba chief marketing officer Chris Tung told CNN in an interview. “We are pushing deeper towards the less developed areas of China, to reach more new online shoppers, so there’s a huge untapped opportunity there.”
The iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (IEMG), the iShares MSCI China ETF (MCHI), and the SPDR S&P China ETF (GXC) all offer healthy doses of Alibaba for investors looking to use ETFs to play the stock.
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