E-Commerce

Why Singles Day sales numbers were a secret this year

Unsteady economic climate as well as declining consumer confidence may have something to do with it.
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Alibaba’s hugely anticipated annual Singles Day sales this year elicited a lot of predictions. But as observers keenly awaited results to see if their predictions were indeed right, JD.com and Alibaba for the first time in 14 years (wait for it) refused to disclose full sales figures.

While Alibaba said that gross merchandise sales for the annual unofficial holiday and shopping season that celebrates people not in relationships were “in line with last year’s GMV performance despite macro challenges and Covid-related impact,” it pretty much stayed mum on the rest.

  • For context, Alibaba notched $84.5 billion in sales last year during Singles’ Day, an 8.5% increase from 2020.

Naturally, speculation was rife about the motivation behind keeping the sales figures a secret this year. China’s unstable economic climate is a prime one, plus government regulations around tech and livestreaming could further hamper growth.

Recent and recurring lockdowns in China have not only impacted the bottom line of several local as well as international retailers, but also contributed to declining consumer confidence, Deborah Weinswig, CEO and founder of Coresight Research, told Retail Brew in an email. “Given China’s weak retail sales this year, unrelenting zero-Covid policy, and the uncertain macroeconomic environment, [Singles Day] festival growth could slow as consumers are more cautious about making discretionary purchases,” she said.

Final word: Singles Day has also evolved from an actual single day of sales to over two weeks of promotional campaigns and deep discounts which, per Weinswig, makes it “difficult to compare year over year growth.”

Still, analysts believe the e-commerce giant will reveal more sales information alongside its Q3 earnings results on November 17.

While it is likely sales were hurt this year, not all hope is lost.

Weinswig said both Alibaba and JD.com’s push into “immersive technologies and experiences, such as 3D shopping and AR try-on tools…could help increase consumer engagement during the festival.” But that’s just a pro tip for next time, we’re guessing.—JS

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