Alibaba Singles Day: Brief History, What the Giant Must Do to Accelerate Sales

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Alibaba (BABA) - Get Report has already had a decent singles day, but how does the day stack up historically?

First off, the company told TheStreet's Annie Gaus that sales would come in with strength. Well, revenue for the day grew over 2018's number, hitting a record of more than $31 billion just for the fist 11 hours of the event.

But that just means 2018 was a record high and the sales kept growing at a positive rate.

Analysts and investors have recently flagged revenue deceleration as one area of slight concern, which is something Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report is seeing in its own e-commerce business. E-commerce sales growth, at large, is decelerating in many countries. In 2018, Alibaba's singles day saw gross merchandise volume of $30.8 billion, representing 21.7% growth over 2017's result of $25.3 billion. So Alibaba would have had to see GMV on the day of more than $37.5 billion in order to surpass that growth rate, as that number would be a 22% growth rate.

The company did just that. Alibaba said GMV for singles day of 2019 was $38.4 billion, representing 24% year-over-year growth.

For context, singles day started in 1993 when single Chinese university students began buying gifts for each other as a ways of celebrating being single. Alibaba adopted the day as its own in 2009 and posted GMV of less than $10 million.

In 2011, the company did $820 million in GMV and grew that number 270% to $3.04 billion in 2012. Dollar results can hit record highs, theoretically, forever. But growth rates can't. In 2017, Alibaba posted impressive GMV growth for the day of 42%, an impressive rate compared to any garden variety public company in the world. and while that was an acceleration over 2016's 24% growth, the 2017 rate was a massive deceleration from 2015's 53%.

Even on a strong day of sales, the stock was down 2.57% to $182.28 a share. The stock is up 33% year-to-date.

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