What Chinese slowdown? Alibaba’s results reveal a record for opening minutes of Singles’ Day

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Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. said early Sunday local time it logged 10 billion yuan, or $1.44 billion, of sales volume in the opening minutes of its annual Singles’ Day shopping extravaganza, a start that outpaces last year’s record kickoff.

China’s largest company
BABA, -2.78%
  reported that Xiaomi
1810, -3.79%
 , Apple
AAPL, -1.93%
  and Dyson products were the top three brands in early sales.

So far, it appears that slowing Chinese GDP growth, weakening consumer sentiment and a trade fight between the U.S. and the world’s No. 2 economy do not appear to be crimping early interest in the event, now a decade old.

Analysts were mixed with pre-sale assessments. Among them, a survey from consulting firm Oliver Wyman showed that 38% of Chinese millennials—a core group of shoppers for Alibaba—said they planned to spend less this year. Overall, the survey said, 30% of shoppers planned to spend less this year.

Related: Alibaba earnings: China’s economic issues create concerns for Alibaba

Still, Alibaba, lead by outgoing chairman Jack Ma and his replacement Daniel Zhang, had said it was bent on beating 2017’s 39% growth and 168 billion yuan in transactions for Singles’ Day, a haul that dwarfed the U.S.’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday holiday shopping promotions combined.

Read: Jack Ma: Trade war between the U.S. and China is the stupidest thing in the world

Singles’ Day began a decade ago as a tongue-in-cheek holiday that celebrated China’s young lonely hearts, the Wall Street Journal reports. Its Chinese name—“Single Sticks Holiday”—is derived from its date: Nov. 11, or 11-11.

By now the event is evolving, as online and offline shopping begin to merge. Alibaba’s Tmall shopping site has tie-ups with 200,000 brick-and-mortar shops, offering 180,000 brands, up 30% from last year, the Wall Street Journal reported. About 200,000 stores across China will have QR codes that shoppers can scan to find deals online, double the amount deployed last year.

Read: Idle hands are Santa’s tools as more holiday shoppers use downtime for mobile buying

For the first time, Alibaba’s supermarket chain, Hema, and Yelp-like online platform Koubei will run Singles Day promotions. Its food-delivery service, Ele.me, will also offer discounts, including selling limited quantities of Starbucks
SBUX, -0.17%
  cold brew coffee for 1 yuan, or about 14 cents.

JD.com
JD, -3.12%
 , another major Chinese internet retailer, also works with affiliated stores, as well as big foreign retailers such as Walmart
WMT, +0.65%
  of the U.S. and France’s Carrefour, to take advantage of the promotion, the paper said.

In another first, Lazada Group, an e-commerce subsidiary based in Singapore, will be aggressively pushing Singles Day with its first 11-11 shopping promotion in six Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines and Malaysia.

ADRs in BABA are down nearly 16% in the year to date.


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