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Alibaba nets record $30 billion in Singles’ Day haul, but growth rate plunges

Shanghai: Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd cashed a record 213.5 billion yuan ($30.7 billion) in sales during its 24-hour online retail frenzy Singles` Day, but the event`s annual growth dropped to its slowest rate.

Shoppers in China and across the world snapped up hot items including iPhones, furniture and milk powder starting pre-dawn, with Alibaba recording roughly $10 billion in sales in the first hour after midnight.

 

Singles` Day, also called “Double 11”, is the world`s biggest online sales event, outstripping the sales of U.S. shopping holidays Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

The Chinese event was originally a novelty student holiday to celebrate being single, countering Valentines Day, but has since grown into a month-long online shopping festival that peaks with a 24-hour sale on November 11.

This year, the company surpassed last year`s full-day sales record of 168 billion yuan in just under sixteen hours.

Despite the record haul, the annual sales growth rate fell from 39 percent to 27 percent, at the low end of analyst estimates, and the slowest rate in the event`s 10-year history.

It comes as the company is grappling with a weaker sales outlook amid rising trade tensions between China and the United States that have taken a bite out of China`s economy.

Earlier this month it revised down its full-year sales outlook by 4-6 percent, sending further chills through the company`s stock price, which has dropped roughly 16 percent this year after almost doubling in 2017.

To compensate, the company will take in less commission from its platforms in the near term to retain brands and attract new buyers, it said.

Online sales growth is also slowing across the board in the country`s eastern mega-cities, including Shanghai and Beijing, and Alibaba said roughly 75 percent of new users last quarter were in “less developed” areas.

While small appliances and cosmetics were strong on Sunday, sales in big-ticket items including large appliances slowed alongside a downturn in the housing market, Alibaba vice chairman Joe Tsai told press.

“If people aren`t buying new homes, they aren`t buying appliances,” he said.