SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Inc on Monday said sales for the annual Singles & # 39; 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 originates from calendar date 11/11, where the four references are singles. Alibaba saw $ 30 billion in revenue on its singles & # 39; platforms last year, dwarfing $ 7.9 billion in Cyber Monday's online sales. Nevertheless, sales growth of 27% was the lowest in the event's 10-year history, and provided a search for new ideas.
The $ 486 billion Chinese store juggernaut started 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 has no 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 gained popularity in 2017 by targeting consumers in China's lower-level cities.
(Reporting by Josh Horwitz; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Jan Harvey)