Shanghai — Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba smashed the 2017 record for its Singles’ Day sales event on Sunday, surpassing 168-billion yuan ($24.15bn) sales in less than 16 hours. Singles’ Day, also called “Double 11”, is the world’s biggest online sales event, outstripping US shopping holiday Black Friday. The Chinese event was originally a novelty student holiday to celebrate being single, countering Valentine’s Day, but has since grown into a month-long online shopping festival that peaks with a 24-hour sales frenzy on November 11. A disproportionately large number of sales are recorded in the first minutes of the 24-hour spending spree, when transactions are recorded for items that have been put on hold. The company settled about 69-billion yuan ($9.92bn) in the first hour of Singles’ Day on Sunday, up about 21% from 2017’s early haul of 57-billion yuan. Items selling well included smartphones and other electronics, but also staples such as milk powder and nappies. While the com...

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