Alibaba’s Jack Ma Says Singles’ Day Shopping Results Miss Expectations

By Reuters
November 13, 2019 Updated: November 13, 2019

SHANGHAI—Alibaba Group Holding Inc. co-founder Jack Ma said on Nov. 13 results from the Singles’ Day annual online shopping festival had missed the Chinese e-commerce giant’s expectations.

Launched in 2009, Singles’ Day has become China’s version of U.S. online sale event Cyber Monday, which follows America’s Thanksgiving holiday. Analysts monitor sales on Singles’ Day to gauge consumer sentiment in China.

The Chinese shopping festival is held on Nov. 11 and is also referred to as Double Eleven because of the date.

“This year’s Double Eleven did not meet the expectations I had imagined,” he said at the 5th World Zhejiang Entrepreneurs Convention.

In a video circulated by Chinese media outlets, Ma said one reason for this was the warm weather. “As soon as the weather gets cold, apparel starts to sell a bit better,” he said.

He also said the event fell on a Monday this year, discouraging people to shop at night before going to work.

“So we hope that for Double Eleven in the future the country will give everyone a half-day off,” he said.

Alibaba did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Alibaba primarily generates revenue from advertisement rather than purchases on its site.

Chinese Consumers Spending Less

China’s economic growth sank to a three-decade low of 6 percent over a year earlier in the quarter ending in September.

The company’s dimmed sales outlook suggests the economic downturn is beginning to affect the non-financial parts of the domestic economy, including China’s middle-class consumers, The Epoch Times reported.

What’s causing a souring mood among consumers? Few reliable consumer confidence gauges exist in China, but negative headlines around the ongoing trade war have increased the level of fear among the middle class.

Some analysts question whether China really is achieving even that growth and say the real rate may be closer to 3 percent, according to the Associated Press. They blame flaws in data collection and political pressure to make results look better.

Recent crackdowns on shadow banking—from insurance products to peer-to-peer lending—have likely put a dent in consumer income. Increased e-commerce competition and more sophisticated shopping behavior also are making it more difficult for companies fighting for their share.

By Josh Horwitz. The Epoch Times and the Associated Press contributed to this report.