11.11 Sale Update: Big Chinese Brands Are Having a Nice Day

Chinese brands including smartphone maker Xiaomi and home appliance manufacturer Haier are emerging as the early winners in this year’s 11.11 Shopping Festival as Chinese consumers make use of discounts to buy big-ticket items like consumer electronics and furniture.

At around 2 p.m.—14 hours into the 24-hour festival, which is hosted by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group—the top five brands ranked by GMV (gross merchandise volume) were Xiaomi, followed by Haier; Japanese apparel retailer Uniqlo; telecommunications hardware and phone maker Huawei; and Chinese furniture retailer Linshimuye, according to Alibaba Group, whose shopping websites host the 11.11 festival.

Tmall.com President Steve Wang said during a press conference at Alibaba headquarters in Hangzhou, China, that multinational brands such as Uniqlo and Adidas are also seeing their online sales boom. “Brands like (Spanish clothing retailer) Massimo Dutti, who are participating for the first time this year, are posting good numbers,” Wang said. Alibaba-owned Tmall.com, China’s largest business-to-consumer shopping website, started the 11.11 sale in 2009.

Xiaomi’s Tmall.com store hit RMB 1 billion ($163 million) in sales by noon, becoming the first Tmall.com store to ever to break the RMB 1 billion mark in the history of 11.11. During last year’s sale, Xiaomi’s Tmall.com store did RMB 550 million ($89.9 million) in GMV, making it the top store on the website for Nov. 11, 2013.

The frenzied buying this year surpassed last year’s 11.11 Shopping Festival GMV total of RMB 36.2 billion ($5.8 billion) in the early afternoon at 1.31 p.m.

Earlier, at 11.49 a.m., 11.11 transactions exceeded the $5.29 billion in total online sales recorded for the five-day period that stretches from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday during last year’s Christmas holiday shopping season in the U.S.

Without disclosing the merchants, Alibaba said 12 Tmall storefronts topped RMB 100 million ($16.3 million) in sales by noon on Nov. 11; 40 storefronts had broken the RMB 50 million ($8.15 million) mark.

“I don’t think any other company in China can create a day like this,” Alibaba Executive Vice Chairman Joe Tsai  told reporters at the Alibaba campus. “We are about making it easy to do business everywhere  by helping merchants on our platform reach consumers in the most efficient way, and we are very happy to see that consumers are coming to our platforms to make purchases,” he said.

“You are seeing the unleashing of the consumption power of the Chinese consumer and this is very important,” Tsai said. Faced with a secular slowdown in the country’s once-booming economy, China’s leaders in recent years have been steering the country away from a dependence on exports and investment for growth toward an economic model balanced by greater consumer spending. The high sales totals during the 11.11 sale reflect that transition is ongoing, Tsai said. “We are really witnessing history because we are witnessing the shift of the economy from the state sector to consumption,” he said.