Alibaba claims retail sales crown as Singles Day tops $9 billion

The Chinese online shopping bonanza known as Singles Day has become the world's most profitable shopping day, ever.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is making a habit out of shattering records. First, in September, the company successfully steered the largest initial public offering the world had ever seen.

And then came November 11, 2014 — Singles Day — when Alibaba raked in an estimated $9.34 billion in sales to set the record for the world’s biggest online shopping day, ever.

Alibaba’s e-commerce presence is quite mighty, with the company touting in its F-1 filing that "Alibaba is synonymous with e-commerce in China." It owns Taobao Marketplace, China’s largest online shopping business, and also Tmall, the country's largest third-party platform for brands and retailers.

As for Singles Day, Alibaba reinvigorated the holiday as an anti-Valentine’s Day festival for single people, but it has evolved into a shopping bonanza similar to Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the US — only much, much bigger.

Altogether, Alibaba’s Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) rose 58 percent year-over-year, according to Seeking Alpha, with mobile accounting for more than 42 percent.

At the end of last year’s Singles Day, Alibaba claimed a total of $8 billion in sales. For comparison, the combined total sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the US were a measly $3 billion. 

While the common US shopper base either lacks the incentive or the finances to shell out that much cash in a single day, US retailers should still hold out hope for a strong sales season. According to the National Retail Federation’s holiday shopping forecast, total sales for the 2104 holiday season are estimated to be around $616 billion, with online sales tapped to rise between 8-11 percent.

"Though we have only seen consumer income and spending moderately — and erratically — accelerate this year, we believe there is still room for optimism this holiday season," said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz, in the NRF report. "In the grand scheme of things, consumers are in a much better place than they were this time last year, and the extra spending power could very well translate into solid holiday sales growth for retailers; however, shoppers will still be deliberate with their purchases, while hunting for hard-to-pass-up bargains."