Alibaba's Singles Day beats Amazon Prime Day

QR codes being produced ahead of the Singles Day shopping festival in Wenzhou China on Oct 24

Online shoppers in China have shattered last year's record of $24 billion in sales on the country's annual buying frenzy Sunday, as the tradition marked its 10th year. China's Singles' Day sales on TMall hit 10 billion yuan (about 1.44 billion US dollars) at just two minutes and five seconds after midnight on Sunday. This year's tally breaks from gloomy forecasts about the world's second-largest economy, which is struggling with a tariff war with the US, a stock market slump and slowing overall growth.

The explosive start to Singles' Day comes as little surprise, despite some recent shakiness in the Chinese economy.

But since its inception, mainly thanks to Chinese tech giant Alibaba, in the last decade Singles' Day has blossomed into the largest shopping holiday in the world.

This year, Alibaba said there were around 180,000 brands participating in Singles' Day, and as of 8.00pm on Sunday, sales were nearing $27 billion.

Less than 10 minutes later, or 12 minutes and 14 seconds into the sale, GMV surged to 36.2 billion yuan, outpacing its 2013 levels. The date was chosen because 11-11 resembles four "bare sticks", a Chinese term for bachelor. The improvised holiday was co-opted by e-retailers in 2009 and transformed into China's version of Cyber Monday, as the Monday after Thanksgiving is known.

Gross merchandise value encompasses value generated globally across Alibaba's swiftly expanding ecosystem, which includes, Tmall, and concepts that blend online and offline sales, like the supermarket chain Hema.

But Ma parlayed that into the world's biggest shopping day by encouraging consumers to treat themselves to heavily discounted sneakers, mattresses and Gucci bags.

The sale covers obvious goods like smartphones, TVs and other big-ticket consumer items, but also fashion, clothing, furniture, health products and more.

Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma was present at the gala night for countdown to the Global Shopping Festival 11.11 in Shanghai. "This burst of consumption, confined to just one day, can be exhausting for both buyers and sellers".

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