Over S$20b spent on Singles' Day, world's biggest online shopping event, says Alibaba

Alibaba founder Jack Ma attending the "Singles' Day" shopping festival in Beijing on Nov 10.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma attending the "Singles' Day" shopping festival in Beijing on Nov 10. PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI (AFP) - E-commerce giant Alibaba said on Thursday (Nov 12) that Chinese and international consumers spent more than 91.2 billion yuan (S$20.3 billion, US$14 billion) in the world's biggest online shopping day, as it sought to soothe worries over China's slowing economy.

The November 11 "Singles' Day", which fell on Wednesday, has evolved into the globe's biggest online shopping festival since Alibaba began using the date in 2009 to promote sales through its platforms.

The US$14.3 billion worth of merchandise volume this year smashed through last year's tally of US$9.3 billion, according to figures from Alibaba.

"This day demonstrates the power of domestic China consumption and the Chinese consumer's strong demand for international products," Alibaba chief executive officer Daniel Zhang said in a statement.

The total was more than double the US$6.6 billion recorded last year in online buying during the peak US retail period, the five days from the Thanksgiving holiday to the following Monday, according to Internet analytics firm comScore.

Alibaba's New York-listed stock has been hammered by worries over the Chinese economy, serving as a proxy for slowing growth. It closed down 1.94 per cent at US$79.85 on Wednesday despite the shopping festival.

Chinese growth hit a 24-year low in 2014 and has slowed further this year, as it tries to shift from investment and exports to domestic consumption.

Under what leaders call the "new normal", the country logged its worst economic performance since the global financial crisis in the third quarter, with the economy growing just 6.9 per cent.

In a bright spot, October retail sales - a key indicator of consumer spending - jumped 11.0 per cent from a year earlier, the fastest increase since December last year, official figures showed Wednesday.

Alibaba stands to benefit as its Taobao platform dominates the consumer-to-consumer online market, while its Tmall platform is believed to command more than half the Chinese market for business-to-consumer transactions.

Alibaba's online payment unit, Alipay, processed 710 million transactions during the shopping festival, the statement said, peaking at almost 86,000 per second.

The number of buyers using mobile devices - a key priority for Alibaba - reached 95 million through Taobao and Tmall, it said, without giving a figure for total buyers.