Singles Day originated in China in 2009 as an anti-Valentine's Day celebration for young single people to splurge on items for themselves. Also called Double 11, taking place on November 11, the event used to be a 24-hour flash sale but has transformed into a global multi-day shopping extravaganza, ending at midnight on 11.11. The annual event started with 27 Tmall merchants. This year more than 290,000 brands participated and offered more than 14 million deals.
Singles Day racks up more sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. Record sales by JD.com and Alibaba were estimated at $139 billion, but they weren't enough to buoy reported sluggish Singles Day in China. This year the extended period helped the companies continue to grow sales. JD.com began sales in late October, while Alibaba started at the beginning of November.
This year's shopping event happened under the cloud of a sweeping government crackdown on private business in China. Earlier this year Alibaba was slapped with a record $2.8 billion fine for behaving like a monopoly, and shed hundreds of billions of dollars in market value. JD.com, Tencent, Pinduoduo, and Meituan have also been investigated or fined over alleged anti-competitive behavior.
Alibaba and JD.com shifted focus from pure sales figures to sustainability and inclusiveness, reflecting the "common prosperity" agenda of President Xi Jinping. "This year's Festival marks a new chapter for 11.11," said Chris Tung, Chief Marketing Officer of Alibaba Group, in a statement. "We believe we must leverage the power of 11.11 to encourage sustainable development and promote inclusiveness to consumers, merchants, and partners across our ecosystem."
"This 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, we delivered steady and quality growth that is a reflection of the dynamic Chinese consumption economy. We also leveraged the power of 11.11 as a platform to fulfill our social responsibility. This year's festival was a meaningful milestone as part of our commitment towards building a sustainable future," said Yang Guang, Vice President at Alibaba Group.
“Our record-breaking sales and accelerated growth for the day show that what truly matters to Chinese consumers is the quality, reliability and authenticity that only JD.com guarantees," said Haoyu Shen, CEO of JD Mall. "Across all product categories, from electronics to apparel to fresh food, we have seen tremendous growth because our customers trust JD.com to provide the highest product quality, most efficient service and fastest delivery. On mobile, our partnership with Tencent puts JD.com in front of more than half a billion WeChat and Mobile QQ users, a tremendous industry advantage that enabled us to reach and win over new customers during the sale.”
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