Alibaba's Singles' Day sales hits new high, $24.3 billion by mid-day

Workers sort parcels at an SF Express distribution centre ahead of the Singles' Day online shopping festival in Shenyang China on Oct 24

The world’s biggest shopping holiday is this month–and it’s not Black Friday

The spending binge has for years eclipsed Cyber Monday in the USA for online purchases made on a single day.

Alibaba had already generated more sales on Singles' Day 2018 - just 10 minutes into the 24-hour shopping event - than Amazon is estimated to have reached in its record-setting 2018 Prime Day.

For Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., that was the year co-founder Jack Ma created China's first retail extravaganza around the holiday of Singles' Day.

The annual 24-hour online shopping spree notched 213.5 billion yuan ($30.7 billion) in sales, the Chinese e-commerce giant said Sunday, surpassing last years record of $25.3 billion.

Chinese workers carry goods from Singles' Day online shopping onto a "Fuxing" high-speed bullet train from Beijing to Changsha. They are also integrating their products with smart-home offerings. 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.

More than 180,000 Chinese and worldwide brands helped celebrate the 10th 11/11 shopping spree, which also featured televised entertainment from names such as Cirque du Soleil and Mariah Carey.

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But Ma parlayed that into the world's biggest shopping day by encouraging consumers to treat themselves to heavily discounted sneakers, mattresses and Gucci bags. Billionaire co-founder Jack Ma has been a vocal opponent of the tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of US and Chinese goods, calling the trade war "the most stupid thing in this world". The current chief executive will take over as schairman next year, Alibaba announced in September.

"People are swept up in the festivities", Hong said in a phone interview.

The occasion also has big environmental implications.

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.

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

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