Alibaba’s Singles Day pulls in $84.5 billion in sales despite regulatory crackdown

Chinese tech giant Alibaba (BABA) raked in a whopping $84.5 billion in sales during its annual 11.11 Singles Day shopping extravaganza. This year’s numbers blew away the company’s 2020 sales of $74 billion, despite Alibaba facing regulatory scrutiny at home, and the pandemic-driven global supply chain crunch.

The largest shopping event in the world, Singles Day dwarfs Amazon’s Prime Day, Cyber Monday, and Black Friday combined, which came in at about $30.7 billion.

Some 290,000 brands participated in Alibaba’s shopping festival, which began on Nov. 1 and ran through Nov. 11. Alibaba rival JD.com said it pulled in $48.7 billion just before the end of the shopping day in China.

Here in the U.S., Alibaba held an event featuring brands like Diane Von Furstenberg, Supergoop!, Mansur Gavriel, and basq NYC, which have begun using Alibaba’s live stream platform to sell goods to Chinese-based consumers.

An advertisement to promote Alibaba's Singles' Day shopping festival is pictured in Shanghai, China November 11, 2021. REUTERS/Aly Song

An advertisement to promote Alibaba’s Singles’ Day shopping festival is pictured in Shanghai, China November 11, 2021. REUTERS/Aly Song

Diane Von Furstenberg CEO Gabby Hirata told Yahoo Finance that the effort has paid off handsomely for the high-fashion brand. The brand’s sales jumped 110% in the first 15 minutes of its live stream during this year’s event.

Alibaba launched live streaming on its platform five years ago, but for brands like Diane Von Furstenberg, the pandemic made using the technology a necessity to reach Chinese consumers. Hirata credits the success of the 2020 live stream for her promotion from the head of Diane Von Furstenberg’s APAC region to president and CEO just a year after joining the company.

This year’s Singles Day came amid a larger crackdown on tech giants in China. Alibaba itself was slammed with a $2.8 billion fine for allegedly violating anti-monopoly laws. According to China’s State Administration for Market Supervision, the company eliminated and restricted competition in the online retail platform service market.

The company also faced backlash from the government in 2020 when founder Jack Ma spoke out against the Chinese banking system. Ma then disappeared from the public eye for months, before turning up at an event in January.

Alibaba’s Ant Group, meanwhile, had its own problems when the Chinese government shut down its attempt to launch its initial public offering, citing concerns over its financial disclosures. The IPO was expected to raise some $37 billion for the company.

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