Record Singles’ Day sales reflect Asian e-commerce boom

Cathay Pacific and other cargo carriers benefit from Alibaba’s 11.11 shopping bonanza

Alibaba once again broke its Singles’ Day sales record on 11 November this year, with US$38bn changing hands during the online shopping extravaganza held in the Chinese mainland and beyond. The final total was announced at midnight to close the annual 24-hour event, which kicked off with a live TV gala featuring a performance by US pop star Taylor Swift.

Although that is an extraordinary 25 per cent increase from the previous year’s sales total, it fell below the 27 per cent growth rate posted in 2018 – the result of a weakening economy and ongoing trade tensions.

Singles’ Day – named for the four ones displayed in the date 11.11 – encourages people to buy themselves a gift from heavily discounted sales items. The huge uptick in sales and the expectation of swift delivery presents a mammoth challenge to the logistics industry, and is also a reflection of the growing importance of e-commerce worldwide.

John Cheng, Cathay Pacific’s Head of Cargo Markets and Products, said: ‘So far, cross-border e-commerce has been on a growth trend irrespective of the performance of the general air freight market. It provides us with some steady year-round baseload support.

‘Singles’ Day has always been a boost to stimulate demand, and its reach is extending beyond the Chinese mainland. It is getting very popular in South East Asian countries as well, and the sales period is also getting longer.’

He added: ‘The air cargo industry benefits, as customers do expect quick delivery. Each year, we plan well ahead of Singles’ Day with our forwarding agents to block extra capacity on our scheduled flights, supplemented with part charters to certain particularly hot destinations.’

Photo credit: Alibaba