EMAILED ON November 12, 2018 BY Conor Grant

Alibaba broke its Singles’ Day sales record, selling $30.8B despite its trade-war slump

Yesterday, Alibaba sold $30.8B of goods in its 10th annual Singles’ Day, breaking its own record for the highest sales in a single day.

The world’s largest made-up holiday grossed about 2x as much as last year’s Cyber Monday ($6.59B), Black Friday ($5B), and Prime Day ($4.2B) combined. But, in spite of its record-setting sale, Alibaba’s stock has slid more than 30% since June. 

Blacker than Black Friday

The first year that Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang launched Singles’ Day as a marketing promotion in 2009, the ‘holiday’ brought in $7m in revenue over the course of the day. 

This year it took Alibaba 85 seconds to sell its first $1B of merchandise, and a little over an hour to sell $10B worth of stuff

While Singles’ Day started as a simple promotional event for 27 Alibaba partner brands, it has grown into an integral part of Alibaba’s overall strategy. 

Pop culture meets profit 

Alibaba uses Singles’ Day to build hype for its brand, broadcasting extravagant launch parties to engage users.

As a part of this year’s show, Alibaba paid artist Liu Wei to rap about the features of a new SUV and hired Cirque du Soleil acrobots to perform on the live broadcast in front of the event’s corporate sponsors.

But the hosts of the event, who constantly begged viewers to use their phones to check out all of the Singles’ Day deals throughout the broadcast, revealed how high the Singles’ Day stakes are for Alibaba.

Too many eggs in a Singles’ basket?

Singles Day masks a challenging financial position for Alibaba: Despite the event’s success, Alibaba’s shares are down nearly 16% on the year, and the ecommerce powerhouse recently lowered its sales forecasts 6%.

As Alibaba attempts to overcome all of these obstacles, Singles’ Day will become even more important to the company’s success in the future.

Now Zhang, who will take over Jack Ma’s role as chairman, has to fill Ma’s big, flamboyant shoes, ward off growing competitors like Pinduoduo, and deal with the US-China trade war.