Alibaba Singles' Day sales hit $10 billion in first hour

Alibaba Singles' Day sales hit $10 billion in first hour

Alibaba Singles' Day sales hit $10 billion in first hour

At just 10 minutes in, Alibaba's massive 24-hour online shopping extravaganza had generated more than $4.68 billion in sales. This is the 10th year that the company has celebrated 11/11.

This year's tally breaks from gloomy forecasts about the world's second-largest economy, which is struggling with a tariff war with the U.S., a stock market slump and slowing overall growth. Cyber Monday sales previous year reached about $US6.6 billion. No, it's not what you would think at first, it is not a celebration of single life, kind-of an anti-Valentines Day but more a festival of online shopping.

Other brands and e-commerce retailers like, Mogujie and VipShop too reported heavy sales. While most businesses benefit from the holiday in China now, the biggest beneficiary of Singles' Day is Alibaba. It blends online shopping and augmented reality with the in-store experience.

Singles' Day was the brainchild of co-founder Ma and Zhang, who came up with the idea of turning the counter-cultural holiday into a shopfest a decade ago. It's become so enormous that packaging waste - Alibaba expects 1 billion packages to get shipped this year - and potential damage to the environment remain lingering issues. The current chief executive will take over as schairman next year, Alibaba announced in September. Alibaba is also using the occasion to test the limits of its cloud computing, delivery, and payment capabilities, as well as try out new business endeavours that are uprooting traditional retailers.

While sales growth remains steady, Alibaba's stock has dropped 16 percent this year amid economic uncertainties linked to brewing trade tensions between China and the United States.

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% of new users last quarter were in "less developed" areas.

Here is a history of Singles' Day through the years. Worldwide expansion will be a key part of Zhang's plan to keep breaking sales records.

The explosive start to Singles' Day comes as little surprise despite some recent shakiness in the Chinese economy. Popular items purchased overseas included mobile phones, wool coats and knitted sweaters, according to the company. It discarded a pledge to create a million jobs in the country, lost its top American dealmaker, and jettisoned plans for affiliate Ant Financial to acquire MoneyGram. Last year, Russia, Hong Kong and the US were the top three regions outside of mainland China to buy goods during the annual event. But in its relentless ambition, Alibaba may be Amazon's only global equal.

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