Alibaba’s Singles Day sales hit $1.5bn in seven minutes

© Bobby Yip
Chinese shoppers bought $1.47 billion (10 billion yuan) worth of goods within the first seven minutes as the e-commerce giant Alibaba's online shopping festival kicked off. Friday sales are expected to beat last year’s record of almost $14.4 billion.

Sales records have been broken every year since the online shopping event for the country’s lonely hearts was introduced by Alibaba on November 11, 2009. Singles’ Day has become a barometer of Chinese consumer sentiment.

Last year it took more than 12 minutes for Alibaba to hit sales of 10 billion yuan. Shoppers spent more than $5.1 billion (35.3 billion yuan) within the first hour.

Analysts expect this year’s Singles’ Day sales to reach $20 billion.

“Alibaba will likely break another Singles’ Day sales record this year as bargain-seeking Chinese consumers again flex their spending muscle and shrug off any concerns there may be about China’s slowing economy,” Andria Cheng, an eMarketer analyst told Bloomberg. “Many foreign brands, with and without local China presence, will use this shopping event to further raise their brand profile with Chinese consumers.”

According to Alibaba, around 90 percent of the transactions were completed from wireless devices, such as smartphones, in the first 30 minutes after the Singles’ Day festival kicked off on Friday. The first orders were successfully delivered to buyers within 13 minutes from the start of the shopping event.

Foreign brands such as Apple, Nike, New Balance, Adidas and Ugg dominate the top sellers, the company said. Nike sneakers and Levi’s jeans were among the hottest items purchased by customers last year.

Alibaba’s sales will surge by 40 percent in this year's Singles Day event, said Fung Business Intelligence Center.

As the world's biggest online shopping event Singles Day is similar to Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the United States.

Retailer Alibaba accounts for more than 80 percent of China's internet sales market. It is expected to grow by 24 percent to $1.91 trillion in transactions this year, according to research company eMarketer.