Alibaba Blows Away Singles Day Record With $9 Billion in Sales

Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma
“Good work, team.”

Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Yesterday, for Moneybox, we wrote about Singles Day, the biggest day in online shopping you’ve probably never heard of. Singles Day, to briefly recap, was started in the 1990s by university students as a kind of anti–Valentine’s Day and rebranded as a huge commercial event by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba in 2009. Last year, Alibaba did $5.8 billion worth of transactions on Singles Day. This year, it was projected to top $8 billion.

Singles Day is still ongoing in the U.S., but in China—where it’s the rough equivalent of Cyber Monday—the day has already wrapped up. And based on the numbers we have so far, Alibaba crushed it. In just 24 hours, Alibaba’s various shopping sites did more than $9.3 billion in sales—an increase of about 60 percent from last year. Nearly $2 billion of that amount clocked in during the first hour of Singles Day alone. When the final tallies come in from sales on Alibaba’s AliExpress site (for buyers outside China), that total could climb far higher.

Alibaba’s Singles Day sales have been growing at a somewhat terrifying clip since 2009. Here’s a nice chart from Forbes showing that:

Despite blowing away its Singles Day sales record—or perhaps because of it—Alibaba is having one of its worst days on the stock market since its Sept. 19 debut. Shares on Tuesday fell 3.87 percent to $114.54, and continued to trend down after the bell. One theory for the weakness was that Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma rattled investors with an interview he gave to CNBC. “Today when people have high expectations on you, I start to worry,” Ma said. “We are not that good yet. We are a company only 15 years old. … It’s a young company, young industry, and it’s not easy.” As per usual, the dip can also be chalked up to profit taking.

Ma also said Tuesday on China’s state TV that he thinks Alipay, the financial services arm of Alibaba, will definitely go public on its own. Asked about his plans by CNBC, Ma said he hoped to take Alipay public not for money but for transparency. “I want this company to last long. I want this company to be audited by everyone involved,” he said. “If we can be public, more people know about us more people look at us, that will be good. I can sleep well.”

With $9 billion-and-counting in sales under Alibaba’s belt for this year’s Singles Day, he should probably sleep well tonight regardless.