Alibaba, JD set new records to rack up record $115 billion of sales on Singles Day as regulations loom

GUANGZHOU, China — Chinese e-commerce giants Alibaba and racked up around $115 billion in sales across their platforms during the Singles Day shopping event, both setting new records.

The record sales number comes as the Singles Day event, also known as Double 11 because it happens on Nov. 11, was extended beyond just a 24-hour period. Instead, promotions ran from Nov. 1 to midnight on Nov. 12.

Alibaba said its total gross merchandise value (GMV) over the 11-day period, a figure that shows the total value of orders across Alibaba’s shopping platforms, totaled 498.2 billion yuan — or $74.1 billion. That figure nearly doubled last year’s 268.4 billion yuan.

Meanwhile,’s transaction volume over the same period totaling 271.5 billion yuan ($40.97 billion), more than the 204.4 billion yuan it recorded in 2019.

This year’s Singles Day event came as the Chinese economy continues to show signs of recovery after appearing to broadly control the coronavirus pandemic.

Alibaba said its total gross merchandise value (GMV) over the Singles Day event, which spanned 11-days, totalled 498.2 billion yuan or $74.1 billion. That beat last year’s 268.4 billion yuan figure.

But it was also overshadowed by huge stock price falls for both Alibaba and which came after Chinese regulators released draft rules that, for the first time, defines what constitutes anti-competitive behavior. Investors fear that China’s technology giants could get caught up in a tough regulations which could damage their business.

Alibaba’s Hong Kong-listed stock was around 3% higher on Thursday while’s Hong Kong-listed shares were up over 7%, showing signs of a rebound.

Foreign brands, lower tier cities

For both Alibaba and, foreign brands were a big focus. Chinese shoppers who would usually be going abroad to buy foreign products, were expected to purchase them in China, due to travel restrictions, Alvin Liu, the president of Alibaba’s Tmall import and export business, told CNBC in an interview last week.

Alibaba said 250,000 brands participated in the Singles Day event this year of which 31,000 were from overseas. The United States was the top country selling to China by GMV, Alibaba said.

Michael Evans, president of Alibaba, said over $5 billion of Alibaba’s total $74.1 billion GMV, came from U.S. brands.

“A China strategy and a digital strategy is going to be critical in the post-pandemic world,” Evans told CNBC.

Singles Day is not just about driving sales, however. Both Alibaba and see it as away to acquire new customers and the companies have been focusing on so-called lower tier Chinese cities which usually have more price-sensitive consumers. The e-commerce giants see this as a critical part to their growth strategy.

“Many brands have come to realize the huge size of the Chinese market, so they customize products for lower-tier cities by leveraging JD’s data and our supply chain capabilities,” Xu Lei, CEO of JD Retail, told CNBC in an interview that aired Thursday.

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