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...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Sunday Times Daily.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now