What slowdown? Alibaba’s sales results reveal a record notched for opening minutes of Singles’ Day

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. said early Sunday local time it logged 10 billion yuan, or $1.44 billion, of sales volume in the opening minutes of its annual Singles’ Day shopping extravaganza, a start that outpaces last year’s record kickoff.

China’s largest company BABA, -2.78%   reported that Xiaomi 1810, -3.79%  , Apple AAPL, -1.93%   and Dyson products were the top three brands in early sales.

So far, it appears that slowing Chinese GDP growth, weakening consumer sentiment and a trade fight between the U.S. and the world’s No. 2 economy do not appear to be crimping early interest in the event, now a decade old.

Analysts were mixed with pre-sale assessments. Among them, a survey from consulting firm Oliver Wyman showed that 38% of Chinese millennials—a core group of shoppers for Alibaba—said they planned to spend less this year. Overall, the survey said, 30% of shoppers planned to spend less this year.

Still, Alibaba, lead by outgoing chairman Jack Ma and his replacement Daniel Zhang, had said it was bent on beating 2017’s 39% growth and 168 billion yuan in transactions, a haul that dwarfed the U.S.’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday holiday shopping promotions combined.

Singles Day began a decade ago as a tongue-in-cheek holiday that celebrated China’s young lonely hearts, the Wall Street Journal reports. Its Chinese name—“Single Sticks Holiday”—is derived from its date: Nov. 11, or 11-11.

By now the event is evolving, as online and offline shopping begin to merge. Alibaba’s Tmall shopping site has tie-ups with 200,000 brick-and-mortar shops, offering 180,000 brands, up 30% from last year, the Wall Street Journal reported.

For the first time, Alibaba’s supermarket chain, Hema, and Yelp-like online platform Koubei will run Singles Day promotions. Its food-delivery service, Ele.me, will also offer discounts, including selling limited quantities of Starbucks SBUX, -0.17%   cold brew coffee for 1 yuan, or about 14 cents.

About 200,000 stores across China will have QR codes that shoppers can scan to find deals online, double the amount deployed last year.

JD.com JD, -3.12%  , another major Chinese internet retailer, also works with affiliated stores, as well as big foreign retailers such as Walmart WMT, +0.65%   of the U.S. and France’s Carrefour, to take advantage of the promotion, the paper said.

In another first, Lazada Group, an e-commerce subsidiary based in Singapore, will be aggressively pushing Singles Day with its first 11-11 shopping promotion in six Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines and Malaysia.

ADRs in BABA are down nearly 16% in the year to date.

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