Workers sort packages after the "Singles Day" shopping festival at a delivery company in Hengyang, China's central Hunan province, early November 12, 2018.
STR | AFP | Getty Images
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba said on Monday that sales for the annual Singles & # 39; Day Shopping Blink reached 91.2 billion yuan ($ 13 billion) in the first hour, up 32% from last year's early catch of 69 billion yuan.
Akin to Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the United States, Singles & # 39; Day has been promoted as a shopping party by Alibaba Chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang since 2009, and quickly grew to become the world's largest online sales event.
Also known as "Double Eleven", the festival's name dates from calendar date 1[ads1]1/11, with the four referring to being single. Alibaba saw $ 30 billion in revenue on its singles & # 39; platforms last year, dwarfing $ 7.9 billion in Cyber Monday's online sales. Still, sales growth of 27% was the lowest in the event's 10-year history, leading to the search for fresh ideas.
The $ 486 billion Chinese store juggernaut started off this year's 24-hour shopping party with performances by American pop star Taylor Swift and local celebrities such as Jackson Yee.
This is the first time Alibaba & # 39; s Singles & # 39; Day does not have flamboyant co-founder Jack Ma at the helm after retiring in September as chairman.
It also comes at a crucial time for the company, which wants to raise up to $ 15 billion through a stock sale in Hong Kong this month.
Alibaba continues to dominate the online shopping industry, but not without competition.
In addition to longtime rivals JD. com, it now faces competition from startup Pinduoduo, which rose in popularity in 2017 by targeting consumers in China's lower-level cities.