Alibaba, JD smash Singles Day record with $139 billion of sales and focus on ‘social responsibility’

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  • Alibaba and JD.com sold nearly $139 billion on their platforms at China’s Singles Day shopping event, setting a new record.
  • Record sales came despite concerns about Chinese consumer strength and the impact of Beijing’s crackdown on technology companies.
  • Singles Day was a slightly more muted affair as Chinese technology companies face scrutiny from regulators and President Xi Jinping insists on so-called “general prosperity”.

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GUANGZHOU, China – Chinese e-commerce giants Alibaba and JD.com set new sales records on their platforms on Singles Day, the world’s biggest shopping event.

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Shares of both companies rose about 1% on Friday with Alibaba and JD up more than 5% in early Hong Kong trade.

Record sales came despite concerns about Chinese consumer strength and the impact of Beijing’s crackdown on technology companies.

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While Singles Day, also known as Double 11, used to be only a 24-hour flash sale type affair, it has turned into a multi-day extravaganza, ending at midnight on November 11. JD began sales in late October, while Alibaba began. in early November. This extended period has helped companies increase sales.

Alibaba said gross trading volume (GMV) during the 11-day period totaled 540.3 billion yuan ($84.54 billion), up 8% from last year’s 498.2 billion yuan.

JD said transaction volume on its platform totaled 349.1 billion yuan ($54.6 billion) during the single-day period, up 28% from the 271.5 billion yuan recorded last year.

GMV and transaction volume don’t translate into direct revenue for JD and Alibaba. They also do not keep track of returned items. The figures pertain to the volume of transactions on both their platforms.

However, they indicate the appetite of Chinese consumers to shop on the e-commerce giant’s platform.

‘social responsibility’

Despite the big sales numbers, Singles Day was a bit more muted this year. Chinese technology companies are facing intense scrutiny from regulators. President Xi Jinping has also emphasized the so-called common prosperity or moderate wealth for all.

JD and Alibaba both talked about social and environmental responsibility during the event, aligning themselves with Beijing’s priorities.

“In this 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, we have delivered steady and quality growth that is a reflection of the dynamic Chinese consumption economy,” Alibaba Vice President Yang Guang said in a press release.

“We also leveraged the power of 11.11 as a platform to fulfill our social responsibility. This year’s festival was a meaningful milestone as part of our commitment towards building a sustainable future.”

JD, meanwhile, said it reduced carbon emissions by 26,000 tonnes during this single-day period compared to the previous year, highlighting its environmental credentials.

What did people buy?

JD said it has seen an increase in purchases of luxury products and pet-related items.

Apple sales appeared to be strong. JD said the transaction volume for iPhones crossed 100 million yuan in 2 seconds after the last sale began on November 10.

Alibaba and JD both said they saw growth in smaller Chinese cities, a major focus for e-commerce firms as they look to grow their user base.

JD said users of so-called bottom-end markets accounted for 77% of all shoppers during the single-day period. The company said it has seen a “rapid increase in consumption” from these markets in home appliances, medicine and home decor.

Alibaba said that when Double 11 sales opened on November 1-3, spending in low-lying cities and rural areas rose about 25% compared to last year.

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