Alibaba's 2019 Singles Day generated $38.4 billion in sales, a 26 percent increase over last year's total of $30.8 billion and and a record for the day. The day got off to a strong start for Alibaba, according to the company. Sales hit $12.01 billion in the first hour. Within an hour and a half, Alibaba’s sales exceeded the total reached on Singles Day in 2016. During Singles Day, Alibaba offered discounts across its e-commerce sites such as Tmall, Taobao, and Alibaba.com, and touted the event with over-the-top fashion shows and concerts. This year, pop singer Taylor Swift performed at the “Countdown Gala.”
To help boost sales, Alibaba also expanded the number of discounted items in this year’s event and put a heavy emphasis on livestreaming via its platforms to help sell goods. Furthermore, Alibaba said the number of brands participating in the event this year increased to 200,000 from 27 in 2009, and 60,000 in 2017. Participating global brands this year included Apple, Estee Lauder, and Allbirds, which used the event to highlight a new ad campaign on sustainability.
Total Retail's Take: Singles Day, an informal holiday in China launched in 2009 that was created by university students to celebrate single people, has become the biggest of the "shopping holidays." The event creators picked Nov. 11 because the date is written with four singles — “11 11.” All in all, retail industry analysts said the day was a temporary relief to retailers that face fading demand as Chinese consumers, anxious over slowing economic growth and the tariff war with the U.S., tighten their belts. For example, amid the ongoing U.S.-China trade war, there was some concern that American brands could get the cold shoulder from Chinese consumers. But this wasn't the case. The U.S. was the second country by GMV in terms of countries selling to China. Jacob Cooke, CEO of WPIC, an e-commerce tech and marketing firm that helps foreign brands sell in China, told CNBC that jewelry and apparel were the most popular product categories from American retailers.