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Singles' Day rakes in $30bn for Alibaba

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Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang on stage during the company's Singles' Day shopping festival.
Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang on stage during the company's Singles' Day shopping festival.

Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba made a record 213.5 billion yuan ($30.7 billion or R442.23 billion) yesterday during its annual Singles' Day sale.

Singles' Day, which falls on 11 November each year because of the four consecutive ones in the date, has become the world's largest online shopping festival. It was started for single people to spoil themselves and buy their own gifts, the opposite of Valentine's Day.

Everything from tech to furniture is sold online to people in China and across the world at discounted rates for 24 hours.

Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang, who is set to take over from Jack Ma, Alibaba's co-founder who recently announced he would step down as chairman next year, was a key architect of Singles' Day 10 years ago.

This year, $10 billion in sales were recorded in the first hour after midnight.

Reuters reports that while 213.5 billion yuan is record earnings, the event's annual growth dropped to its slowest rate, falling from 39% to 27%.

It comes as the company grapples with a weaker sales outlook amid rising trade tensions between China and the US that have taken a bite out of China's economy, reports Reuters.

Earlier this month, Alibaba revised down its full-year sales outlook by 4-6%, sending further chills through the company's stock price, which has dropped roughly 16% this year after almost doubling in 2017, according to Reuters.

While Singles' Day is not yet celebrated in SA, local e-commerce and bricks-and-mortar shops have cottoned on to the American Black Friday sales trend.

Black Friday is traditionally the day after Thanksgiving in North America, which marks the day when retailers move into profitable territory (the black).

The sales day has become increasingly popular over the last few years in SA. Although no sales numbers were reported, Takealot said it had a record 2.2 million visits to its site on Black Friday 2017.

Black Friday 2018 will take place on 23 November.

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