News & Analysis

Singles Day breaks revenue record again

But Alibaba bargain retail day shows decline in year-on-year growth

This year’s Singles Day – the Alibaba-backed retail offer day – broke its year-on-year record. The final sales figure of US$30.8 billion on 11.11, using its ‘gross merchandise value’ of the retailers on the Alibaba platform, was up 27 per cent on last year’s figure of US$25.3 billion. But it was down on the 29 per cent year-on-year growth recorded in 2017.

The US dollar record took longer to be achieved on the day also, because of the weaker yuan against the dollar, one of the consequences of the escalation in tariffs between mainland China and the US. The sales volume was greater than the combined total of Black Friday and Super Monday – the two retail-offer days in the US.

This year for the first time, to accommodate the growing global interest in Singles’ Day, Alibaba’s logistics supplier Cainiao had prepared for the post-shopping onslaught. It positioned shipping containers off shore at new and developing markets including the US and Western Europe, full of items predicted to sell well. It also booked 51 freighters to fly shipments to Southeast Asia, the US and Europe.

Speaking ahead of 11.11, Cainiao vice-president Ben Wang highlighted how investment in logistics had shortened delivery times despite the increases in volumes. ‘It was only five years ago that parcel orders surpassed 100 million for the first time. Then it took nine days to deliver the first 100 million parcels,’ he said. ‘Last year, it took less than three days (2.8 days) to deliver the same number of parcels.’

Jeanette Mao, Cathay Pacific’s Head of Cargo Global Partnerships added: ‘November falls in the traditional peak season for cargo and, this year, the peak season has proven robust. The 11.11 global shopping festival gave a further boost to our overall air freight volumes, which in particular benefit from the impressive growth of cross border e-commerce. Customers are swarming to quality, customisation and even luxury goods online, therefore, imported products from overseas are gaining notable traction among buyers who are willing to pay more for quality.

‘We have been operating our freighter fleet at full capacity to capture demand during the cargo peak. Both our revenue and tonnage have set new records in the recent weeks.’