Analysts expect J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) 2017 revenues to come in at $12.4 billion. China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) generated nearly that much revenue in the first two hours of its Singles Day shopping festival. With less than six hours to go, the company reported sales nearing $21 billion, not far behind an analysts’ consensus estimate for Macy’s Inc.’s (NYSE: M) total 2017 revenue of $24.65 billion.
The China-based e-commerce giant kicked off its promotion at midnight Saturday morning and sold $1 billion in goods during the first 121 seconds of the sale. The site generated total sales of $11.9 billion in the first two hours.
Alibaba initiated its Singles Day festival in 2009 with 27 participating vendors. Last year more than 100,000 vendors participated and shoppers spent $17.8 billion on merchandise during the 24-hours sale.
With just 4 hours to go in this year’s extravaganza, Alibaba said that package volume was approaching 700 million, already ahead of last year’s total volume of 657 million.
Some 91% of all sales came from customers using mobile devices.
The company’s Alipay online payment subsidiary processed some 256,000 payments per second just five minutes after the sale started and by noon had processed more than 100 million transactions.
In the first hour of the sale, 62 brands had surpassed RMB100 million (about $15 million) in sales. Among these top vendors were Apple, Nike, Adidas, Skechers, and Gap.
In the run-up to Singles Day, research firm Fung Global Retail & Tech noted Alibaba’s New Retail strategy that is aimed at attracting a portion of the 82% of China’s retail sales that are currently generated in physical stores. Tmall, Alibaba’s branded platform, opened 60 interactive pop-up stores in 12 Chinese cities featuring brands such as Beats by Dre, Casio, Procter & Gamble, and Estee Lauder. The pop-up shops included augmented reality displays that allowed customers to “try on” fashion and beauty items without having to use a fitting room.