Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) shares surged Wednesday after the company reported record sales for its Singles Day shopping event on Nov.11. Jennifer Booton of MarketWatch says that the Singles’ Day has surpassed the U.S. Black Friday to become the biggest online shopping day. Alibaba received 278 million orders worth a total of $9.34 billion or 57.1 billion yuan in the 24-hour period. That’s a 63% growth from last year despite a slowdown in Chinese economy.
The most profitable ‘manufactured holiday’ in history
Morgan Stanley analyst Angela Moh said in a research note that Alibaba’s Singles’ Day has broken the Guinness World Record for the highest online sales for a single company in 24 hours. Gross merchandise volume surpassed one billion yuan in the first two minutes of the shopping event, making it one of the most profitable “manufactured holidays” ever.
Alibaba said that about 42.6% of its total sales for the day were generated from mobile devices. Jack Ma said in an interview with CNBC that now the biggest challenge before the company is to deliver the packages on time. On a normal day, the online retail heavyweight delivers about 17 million packages a day. After the Singles’ Day, it will have to deliver 278 million packages in the next three to five days.
The event exceeded Alibaba as well as analysts’ estimates. After heavily promoting the shopping event, the company was expecting $8.2 billion in sales. Research firm IDC had forecast $8.65 billion in sales from the shopping event. Alibaba started Singles’ Day in 2009, when it generated only $7 million. Last year, the gross merchandise value (GMV) had reached $5.75 billion.
Alibaba’s sales figures dwarf the crucial U.S. shopping event
Alibaba said in a statement that its total GMV for Singles’ Day far exceeded last year’s desktop online sales from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday. According to data from comScore, U.S. desktop online sales between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday 2013 stood at $5.3 billion. Alibaba’s Singles’ Day revenue of $9.34 billion is 77% higher. Jack Ma plans to make Singles’ Day a global holiday shopping event by 2019.
SunTrust analyst Rob Peck said he expected this year’s Singles’ Day to generate more sales than the entire U.S. Cyber Week 2014. SunTrust has a Buy rating on Alibaba. However, Singles’ Day still lags far behind the U.S. holiday shopping season in its entirety. According to comScore, consumers spent $48 billion in November and December U.S. holiday shopping last year.
Alibaba shares were up 2.61% to $117.53 at 11:47 AM EST on Wednesday.