Jack Ma Says Hot Weather and a Case of the Mondays Impacted Alibaba Sales on Singles’ Day

Alibaba’s 10th annual 11.11 Global Shopping Festival — also known as Singles’ Day — was its best to date, with a record $38.4 billion in sales. Yet co-founder and former Executive Chairman Jack Ma said the sales “did not meet the expectations I had imagined.”

At the 5th World Zhejiang Entrepreneurs Convention on Wednesday, Ma blamed the weather and the day falling on a Monday, as opposed to a weekend, for lower sales than he’d anticipated.

“11.11s numbers surpassed forecast and went beyond what most people expected from todays economy,” Ma said. Wall Street predicted that 11.11 would grow by around 20%, a sign that China’s consumption is weak and the economy is slowing down. But our numbers actually grew 25.7% … Despite all this, I want to tell everyone that this year’s Double Eleven did not meet the expectations I had imagined because of many reasons. There were two reasons among those. One was that the weather was too hot. If the weather were cold, then winter clothes would have sold a bit more. Secondly, this 11.11 fell on a Monday. In the past 11.11 fell on Saturdays so people could stay up and they would still be ok on the next morning. Because it fell on a Monday, People couldn’t stay up too late. So we hope that for future 11.11, the country can give everyone half a day off.”

Ma added that he hopes in the future the Chinese government can give workers a half day off to allow more time for shopping.

Alibaba recorded 268.4 billion yuan ($38.4 billion) in gross merchandise volume (GMV) on Singles’ Day — a 26% gain year-over-year. The 26% increase bested analysts’ expectations, according to Ma, who said Wall Street predicted year-over-year gains of 20%.

Following Ma’s comments, Alibaba’s stock took a bit of a dip, decreasing 2.4% Wednesday to close at $182.48.

More than 22,000 brands from 78 countries, including local merchants from Russia, Spain, Italy and Turkey, participated in Alibaba’s 2019 Singles’ Day. Nearly 300 brands surpassed 100 million yuan ($143 million) in GMV, with Gap, H&M, Nike and Adidas among the top sellers.

Ma retired from Alibaba in September, coinciding with his 55th birthday and the 20th anniversary of the company’s founding. He will remain on the board of directors until 2020, with CEO Daniel Zhang taking over the reins.

(Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include additional comments from Alibaba founder Jack Ma, provided by the company.)

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