Alibaba smashed its record for the online retail blitz known as Singles Day.
China’s biggest e-commerce company said sales topped $30 billion over a 24-hour period Sunday, soaring past last year’s record of about $24 billion.
The shopping extravanganza regularly racks up bigger sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. But this year’s Singles Day comes as Alibaba’s (BABA) growth is coming under pressure from China’s slowing economy, new rivals in the e-commerce industry and the trade war with the United States.
The final tally on Alibaba platforms rang in at $30,802,477,608, an increase of about 27% over last year’s total at current exchange rates. That’s less spectacular than the 40% growth recorded in 2017.
A slowdown was expected “given that they have had exponential growth in the past,” Xiaofeng Wang, an analyst with research firm Forrester, said ahead of the event. “As the festival matures and becomes more established, we can expect the growth rate to slow down.”
Singles Day is an informal holiday in China celebrating people not in relationships. Its date — November 11, or 11/11— is meant to symbolize singletons.
Alibaba started offering Singles Day discounts in 2009 and has since turned the day into a 24-hour bonanza of online shopping in China.
Other Chinese e-commerce platforms like JD.com and regular brick-and-mortar stores also take part, and the event is starting to gain traction outside China. Alibaba’s Southeast Asia subsidiary Lazada will offer Singles Day discounts in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
But the Singles Day event in China is by far the splashiest.
International companies flock to Alibaba’s celebrity-studded live telecast and its various online platforms, eager to hawk everything from liquor to sports cars.
Imported goods make up a significant amount of sales. A recent survey from research firm Oliver Wyman found that 57% of consumers expect to buy overseas goods during the event.
Japan, the United States and South Korea were the top three countries from which Singles Day shoppers bought products this year.
The United States remained in the No. 2 spot despite the trade war that broke out between the Trump administration and Beijing this year. Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma said in September that the conflict with China’s largest trade partner is hurting the company’s business.
But on Singles Day, Alibaba executives played down concerns about the heavy tariffs that the two countries have imposed on each other, emphasizing that the company will continue to benefit from China’s growing middle class.
“That trend is not going to stop, trade war or no trade war,” Alibaba Executive Vice Chairman Joe Tsai said in a company blog post.