“Double 11” sales hit new record this year, while growth pace slowed

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This year’s “Double 11” Shopping Festival saw sales grow at a slower pace after e-commerce platforms toned down the marketing hype amid regulatory tightening and as China’s overall consumption slows down.

Alibaba Group saw 540.3 billion yuan ($84.5 billion) worth of goods sold across its platforms over the 11 days through November 11, marking a new record high, according to data released by the company on Friday.

However, the growth of gross merchandise volume (GMV) dipped below double-digits for the first time to hit 8.45%. In 2020, Alibaba almost doubled its annual GMV for the event when it expanded a traditional 24-hour run to a series of promotions over 11 days.

Another e-commerce platform JD.com saw GMV reach 349.1 billion yuan during the event, rising by 28.58% from the 271.5 billion yuan in the same period last year, slower than the 32.83% growth last year, according to data released by the company.

Thirty-one brands saw sales exceed 1 billion yuan and sales of Apple products exceeded 10 billion yuan, according to JD data. As much as 43,276 merchants saw transactions surge more than 200% year over year and the number of new smaller brands increased more than four times from a year ago, it said.

Separately, according to data from Syntun, on November 11, the GMV of traditional online retailer platforms reached 314.63 billion yuan, with a total of 1.16 billion pieces of packages were generated and average price per unit at 2718 billion yuan.

In breakdown, GMV of Alibaba’s Tmall, JD.com and Pinduoduo accounted for 57.7%, 27.6% and 6.4% of the total, while other e-commerce platforms accounted for a combined 8.75%, according to the data.

Compared to 2020, Tmall’s share decreased by about 1.3 percentage points, JD.com share increased by 1.6 percentage points, while Pinduoduo’s market shares rose by 0.4 percentage points.

At the same time, live-streaming e-commerce platforms performed brilliantly. During 11.1-11.11, the GMV of mainstream platforms was around 73.76 billion. New retail platform and community group buying platforms have begun to join the “Double 11” competition, the GMV reached 19.72 billion yuan and 13.38 billion yuan respectively.

By categories, 3C and home appliances remained the most popular. Smartphone, refrigerator, flat-panel TV, washing machine and air conditioner were the best-selling products in the first four hours after the shopping event opened, JD said.

Sales of fresh food and groceries maintained strong growth. “In the first four hours, dairy products, tissues, shampoo, cooking oil and biscuit/cake were the most popular categories and total GMV of fresh food jumped 167% from a year earlier”.

Notably, e-commerce giant Alibaba Group have toned down the marketing hype amid ongoing regulatory tightening from Chinese authorities, saying its focus was on sustainable growth this year.

The results also come as overall consumption in China slows. Before the event started, analysts had expected Alibaba to report only a minor increase in GMV this year, citing slowing retail sales, supply shortages, power disruptions and COVID-19 lockdowns.

The festival, which Alibaba last year stretched to a 11-day event with the best deals concentrated in two discount periods, Nov. 1-3 and Nov. 11, has become a closely watched gauge of consumer sentiment in the world’s second-largest economy.

This year, Alibaba played down its sales figures and touted its social welfare initiatives in the final hours of its Singles’ Day festival on Thursday, marking a shift in tone for the highly-publicized event.

Eschewing a rolling tally tracking transactions that had taken centre stage in previous years, Alibaba urged viewers of a three-hour livestream to click “like” and help raise 1 million yuan for a 200-acre (81-hectare) elephant reserve in China’s rural southwest.