While U.S. shoppers are gearing up for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Chinese consumers are opening up their wallets in a big way on Wednesday.
Nov. 11 will mark the 7th annual Singles Day, a shopping celebration organized by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. The e-tailer began celebrating the day, a “folk holiday” on which China’s many single people buy gifts for themselves, in 2009 with just 27 merchants. Since then, the event has grown into a multibillion-dollar enterprise. This year, it will include 40,000 merchants offering discounts on millions of products.
Singles Day sales have grown from around $100 million in 2009 to $9.3 billion in 2014, according to research firm IDC. For comparison, Cyber Monday in the U.S. generated $2 billion in sales last year.
Analysts are predicting that Alibaba will again smash records come Wednesday. IDC projects $13.7 billion worth of sales for Singles’ Day. The company processed a record $9 billion in sales by midday Wednesday local time, Bloomberg reports.
In order to increase the spectacle of the day this year, Alibaba is moving its results ceremony, where it calculates how many sales were generated, from its headquarters in Hangzhou to Beijing, the nation’s capital. Boosting its Beijing presence could help Alibaba compete with JD.com, a rival online retailer based in the city.
This year’s Singles Day comes at a critical juncture for the company. After launching the biggest-ever public offering ever last fall, Alibaba’s stock has struggled this year amidst slowing revenue growth and increased competition from its domestic rivals. Shares dipped below $60 in September, below the company’s $68 IPO price and far off from a peak above $115 last November. The company’s stock was trading around $80 just before Singles Day.
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