"Steep discounts on the Tmall Genie smart speaker during Singles' Day a year ago, as well as the introduction of lower-priced mini versions of several smart speakers in early 2018, were key in accelerating growth". It had started in the 1990s on university campuses as a celebration of being single, a retort of sorts to Valentine's Day.
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd settled roughly 69 billion yuan (US$9.92 billion) in the first hour of its annual Singles' Day today, up roughly 21 per cent from last year's early haul of 57 billion yuan.
Chinese workers carry goods from Singles' Day online shopping onto a "Fuxing" high-speed bullet train from Beijing to Changsha. The improvised holiday was co-opted by e-retailers in 2009 and transformed into China's version of Cyber Monday, as the Monday after Thanksgiving is known.
Alibaba kicked off this year's sales with a gala event that featured United States singer Mariah Carey, a Japanese Beyonce impersonator, and a Cirque du Soleil performance.
Pompeo meeting with North Korean envoy delayed
The communist state also promised to dismantle its main nuclear facility at Yongbyon if the US "takes corresponding measures". Pompeo has traveled four times this year to North Korea, for decades a United States pariah, in hopes of securing an accord.
Ren Xiaotong, a 27-year-old accountant in Beijing, said she suspected online stores jacked up their prices in the lead-up to Singles Day so they could declare that items were discounted.
It's expected to be the company's final November sale event with founder and chairman Jack Ma at the helm.
"Back in 2013, CNY 35 billion ($5.15 billion or roughly Rs. 34,523 crores) was our one-day GMV (gross merchandise volume)", said Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang in a live micro-blog posting on Alibaba's event.
Chinese e-commerce platforms have come under fire in the past for peddling low-quality and counterfeit items.
Alibaba's Singles' Day surpassed Amazon's biggest shopping day of the year in less than 10 minutes. "This burst of consumption, confined to just one day, can be exhausting for both buyers and sellers". Alibaba is also using the occasion to test the limits of its cloud computing, delivery, and payment capabilities, as well as try out new business endeavours that are uprooting traditional retailers.