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Singles Day 2019: Alibaba's shopping day bigger than Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday combined

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China's biggest online shopping festival, Singles' Day, got underway at Sunday midnight local time, with e-commerce giant Alibaba saying 91.2 billion yuan ($13 billion) worth of goods were sold in the first hour, compared with 69 billion yuan previous year. The Chinese company kicked its 2019 event off with a Taylor Swift concert, and has been steadily live blogging updates on how much shoppers are spending.

In terms of money spent, China's one-day festival of consumption is likely to eclipse Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday - combined, according to Adobe Analytics.

Alibaba clocked US$30.8 billion ($48b) worth of sales on Singles' Day past year, while New Zealand retailers that participated in the event made millions of dollars in revenue from online sales. Back in 2009, the sales from the double 11 shopping festival were merely 0.1 billion yuan.

"This year's Singles' Day will have many many new records", Alvin Liu, General Manager Tmall Global Import Export said. The company makes it look like an elaborate affair with fashion shows and gigs.

Its heavy marketing campaign underscores intensifying competition with smaller rivals such as Pinduoduo PDD.N which have outsmarted Alibaba in second- and third-tier cities with deep discounts and group-buying deals. It ranks first globally, with Cyber Monday from the US coming in second place with an average sales number of 7.75 billion yuan.

What's morphed into an astounding revenue-generating enterprise started out among Chinese university students holding parties to celebrate being single in 1993, only to be co-opted by China-based retailing giant Alibaba 16 years later.

Moreover, American and European brands have a huge demand in China that has seen many big brands opening shop in that country. Major brands like Apple and Estee Lauder are some of the big global brands that will be participating in this year's Singles Day.

This chart shows Alibaba's GMV on Singles' Day vs. USA ecommerce sales on Thanksgiving weekend.

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