Alibaba hits another 'Singles Day' record, growth slows

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Despite the record haul, the annual sales growth rate fell from 39 percent to 27 percent, at the low end of analyst estimates, and the slowest rate in the event's 10-year history.

But the slowing rate of annual growth comes as Alibaba faces a weaker sales outlook amid trade tensions between China and the United States that are pressuring China's economy.

"I think a lot of investors get it wrong", vice chairman Joseph Tsai said on Sunday.

The total gross merchandise volume (GMV) for this year's Singles' Day - or the value of total transactions on the platform - is keenly watched as a barometer of consumer spending and retail health in the world's second-biggest economy amid the trade war with US.

Alibaba kicked off this year's sales with a gala event that featured US singer Mariah Carey, a Japanese Beyonce impersonator and a Cirque du Soleil performance.

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Singles' Day hasn't always been about shopping and has its origins as an unofficial holiday on Chinese university campuses in the 1990s.

The made-up holiday began as an unofficial day for singletons because its November 11 date was playfully deemed a reference to "bare branches", a colloquial Chinese term for bachelors. Ma announced in September that he would step down from his role as the company's chairman next year. The e-commerce giant launched the annual online shopping promotion on November 11, 2009. Alibaba is also using the occasion to test the limits of its cloud computing, delivery, and payment capabilities, as well as try out new business endeavours that are uprooting traditional retailers. Its Singapore owned entity Lazada too participated in 11.11 this year, helping the Chinese giant to find its base in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. In the first hour of this year's event, the top countries selling to China were Japan, the United States and South Korea, and the most popular items purchased overseas were dresses, wool coats, trousers and hoodies.

Daniel Zhang, the CEO of Alibaba Group, said, "Today we witnessed the strength and rise of China's consumption economy and consumers' continued pursuit to upgrade their everyday lifestyles". "We're connecting online shopping with offline physical outlets". It just hosted the first International Import Expo last week, in an effort to lure foreign companies access to a growing middle class in China, about 500 million people.

In Chinese, it's called "Double 11", after the numbers in the month and date. "But when we start with the new retail, it greatly helps us extend the total addressable market".