SHANGHAI – China’s golden day for e-commerce, Singles Day, began at midnight (1600 GMT Sunday) with sales surpassing $1 billion in just one minute through the platforms of online retail giant Alibaba Group.
At 12 am on the 11th day of the 11th month, millions of Chinese began shopping and Alibaba began counting orders with the aim of breaking internet sales records for a single day.
In the first five minutes alone, products worth $4.3 billion were sold on platforms such as Taobao or T-Mall in this public shopping festival similar to Black Friday in the United States.
One hour after midnight, Alibaba Group said sales had reached over $12 billion.
The goal is to beat last year’s record $30.8 billion in sales, a figure expected to be achieved through an increasing number of Chinese internet users and online shoppers.
According to Alibaba Group’s latest quarterly results published at the beginning of November, annual active consumers in China reached 693 million, 15.3 percent more than a year earlier.
Singles Day emerged in 2009 with the participation of only 27 stores and a collection of just 52 million yuan ($7.4 million).
Sales each year now reach 2.5 times higher than the total of Black Friday and Cyber Monday – large sales days in the US – combined.
Although most purchases are made in China, there are also international transactions since the company is present in other countries through its AliExpress platform.
Although other online sales platforms have joined the day, as well as thousands of physical stores, Alibaba is the main promoter.
It celebrates in style, such as with a televised gala in which artists and celebrities encourage people to buy.
Sunday’s show, which ended with a countdown to mark the beginning of shopping, was held in the city of Shanghai and featured performances by artists such as the US pop star Taylor Swift.