Alibaba mum on Singles Day sales tally


Alibaba Group opted not to disclose the final sales tally of its annual Singles Day shopping festival for the first time since it started the event in 2009, saying only that results were in line with last year.

Last year's 8.5 per cent rise in gross merchandise value (GMV) for Alibaba's platforms had been its lowest yet, following a 26 per cent jump in 2020. Before 2020, the festival was a one-day event.

The e-commerce platform said in a press release early on Saturday that the event had "delivered results in line with last year's GMV performance despite macro challenges and COVID-related impact."

Growth has been slowing in recent editions of Singles Day - the world's biggest online shopping festival that has, despite its name, evolved into a lengthy event and become a barometer of Chinese retail demand.

Other indicators showed that Chinese consumers clutched their wallets tight this year and continued seeking relatively economical home brands over pricier expensive labels, as consumer sentiment has been hit by stringent COVID-19 curbs and a sharply slowing economy.

Singles Day growth this year had been widely predicted at flat to low single digits.

Alibaba did not respond to requests for comment on its decision to avoid releasing figures on the 11-day sales event ended that ended on Friday.

Yang Zengdong, 40, a teacher in Shanghai, said she had second thoughts about participating in Singles Day at all this year, but when the final sales period started on Thursday evening, she ended up purchasing about the same amount as last year.

"I think it's something deep in the mind of Chinese people that if you don't buy on Singles Day, you are missing out on an opportunity," she said.

Consultancy Syntun on Saturday estimated Alibaba and other Chinese e-commerce firms holding Singles Day shopping events together logged 934 billion yuan (AED 483 billion) in sales, up 2.9 per cent.

Citi analysts said this week they were conservatively forecasting Alibaba's GMV for the event to range from 545 billion yuan to 560 billion yuan (AED 276 billion to AED 283 billion), with a growth of 0.9 per cent to 3.6 per cent.

The e-commerce giant has for over a year toned down the hype around the event as Chinese President Xi Jinping increasingly emphasises "common prosperity" - a push that seeks to eliminate growing wealth inequities and clamp down on what the Communist Party sees as excessive behaviour.

Alibaba did not hold its usual celebrity-studded gala this year or any in-person media events, citing the pandemic.

The company's Tmall marketplace offered Singles Day deals on more than 17 million products, 3 million more than last year, with a record-matching 290,000 brands participating.

Alibaba did not say which brands sold well but said sales of high-tech beauty devices, such as gadgets to cool and lift facial skin, had surged some 5,570 per cent from last year, while carpet cleaners and smart kitchen appliances had been selling extremely well.

Rival also did not publish GMV or sales growth but said Apple Inc AAPL.O sold over 1 billion yuan (AED 52 million) worth of products in the first minute of the event's final sales period on Thursday evening, which is marked by deeper discounts.

During those 10 minutes, turnover for 87 international beauty brands, including Estee Lauder, L'Oreal and L'Occitane, tripled from last year, said.

More from Business

Coming Up on Dubai Eye

  • The Business Breakfast

    6:00am - 10:00am

    The Business Breakfast is the day’s must listen for the UAE’s business leaders, and those who aspire to be.

  • The Agenda

    10:00am - 1:00pm

    Broadcasting every weekday, Georgia Tolley goes beyond the headlines to speak to government ministers, decision makers, analysts and local experts to find out how the news will impact those of us living in the UAE.


On Dubai Eye

  • Halloween-onomics!

    Talking about the economics of Halloween with the General Manager of Spinneys, Tom Harvey. We asked how inflation is affecting the supermarket industry in the UAE.

  • Shipping Rates Are Coming Down - What Does It Mean For Us?

    Dr. Krishna Prasad, President of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers Middle East Chapter explains what the drop in prices & easing of port congestion could mean for our packages and deliveries.