HANGZHOU, China - E-commerce giant Alibaba's Singles' Day sales broke through the US$8 billion (S$10.34 billion) mark late on Tuesday, illustrating the buying power of the Chinese consumer and the importance of the event in the retail calendar.
The live sales figure on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's giant screen at its sprawling Hangzhou campus surged past 2013's record high to the 50 billion yuan (US$8.16 billion) mark with almost three hours left on the clock as Chinese and overseas shoppers bought heavily discounted online goods.
The recent US listing, just eight weeks ago, seemed though to quieten company leaders.
Jack Ma, the normally chatty executive chairman, shied away from the main media events, limiting himself to an interview with state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV).
The shopping day, similar to Cyber Monday and Black Friday in the US, comes less than eight weeks after its public share listing in New York, which set its own US$25 billion record.
Alibaba turned the Singles' Day celebration, a Nov. 11 Chinese response to romantic holidays like Valentine's Day, into an online shopping festival in 2009. It copyrighted the "Double 11" term three years later after recognising its commercial potential.
"You're seeing the unleashing of the consumption power of the Chinese consumer," Joe Tsai, Alibaba Group's executive vice chairman, told reporters.
"We really are witnessing history here because we are seeing the shift of the economy from focused on the state sector to consumption." Alibaba did 35 billion yuan in business during last year's festival, and Tech research firm IDC predicts this year's total gross merchandise volume (GMV) will reach US$8.62 billion.