This Sunday in China it is "Singles Day".
A screen shows the gross merchandise volume, a measure of sales, after two seconds of Singles' Day sales. Twenty minutes in, sales had surpassed $US6.5 billion. The e-commerce giant launched the annual online shopping promotion on November 11, 2009.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. expects strong sales of American products on its web marketplaces during the Singles' Day shopping extravaganza, despite the tit-for-tat trade war with the US and a slowing Chinese economy. They are also integrating their products with smart-home offerings.
Alibaba Group Founder and Executive Chairman, China's Jack Ma speaks during a panel session on the second day of the World Economic Forum, on January 18, 2017 in Davos. However, it did begin life as a celebration of the bachelor life before being taken over as a celebration of relationships akin to Valentines Day until it again morphed into the Chinese version of Black Friday or Cyber Monday but 2.5 times bigger. "Steep discounts on the Tmall Genie smart speaker during Singles' Day previous year, as well as the introduction of lower-priced mini versions of several smart speakers in early 2018, were key in accelerating growth".
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Alibaba kicks off the annual event with a gala, which this year featured U.S. singer Mariah Carey, a Japanese Beyonce impersonator and a shoe-shopping-themed Cirque du Soleil performance.
"People are swept up in the festivities", Hong said in a phone interview.
"Having said that, there are more consumers who still enjoy shopping at double 11 than those that don't", he said.
While both Alibaba and competitor JD.com have pledged to use biodegradable packaging to cut down on waste, research conducted this month by Greenpeace East Asia said many plastics marked "biodegradable" and used by Chinese e-retailers can break down only under high temperatures in facilities that are limited in number across the country.
Earlier this month, Alibaba revised down its full-year revenue forecast, sending a chill through investors, as it said sales of big-ticket items would be impacted.