Southeast Asian e-commerce company Zalora is anticipating record-breaking business this Singles Day amid economic reopening and increased tech adoption across the region.

Speaking to CNBC as the world’s biggest shopping event kicked off, Zalora Group’s CEO Gunjan Soni said she expected Thursday’s activity to outpace that of last year, when the company saw $100 million in sales within the first hour of business.

Singles Day, which takes place on Nov. 11, is an online shopping event similar to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It originated in China and is especially popular across Asia.

“We are seeing a lot of excitement and I definitely expect us to break quite a few records,” Soni told CNBC’s “Street Signs.”

The fashion retailer said it expects pandemic-winning categories, such as athleisure, beauty and kids, to continue to do well this year. Athleisure refers to a type of clothing that combines athletic gear with leisure wear.

But Zalora also anticipates other previously hard-hit segments — like womenswear and occasion wear — to make a comeback.

“The good news is that we’re starting to see finally, a return in demand for women’s apparel and occasion wear, and we expect a spike to happen especially for holiday-related gearing up,” Soni said.

Singles Day is a major event for retailers across the region. In intra-day stats released Thursday, fellow Southeast Asia e-commerce site Lazada, which is owned by China e-commerce giant Alibaba, said it took just nine minutes to cross $11 million in sales.

It comes as Southeast Asia continues to make leaps forward in tech adoption, necessitated in part by coronavirus lockdowns. Even as regional economies move, to varying degrees, to reopen, Soni said she expects the demand for e-commerce to continue going forward.

“We are very bullish on the vertical across fashion, beauty as well as lifestyle, if we take the next three to five years,” she said.

Southeast Asia’s six largest economies are now home to 440 million internet users, 40 million of whom came online for the first time this year, according to a new report released Wednesday by Google, Temasek Holdings and Bain & Company. Of the total 440 million, 80% have made an online purchase at least once.



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