Alibaba Singles' Day sales hit $10 billion in first hour

Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang kicks off the 11:11 Global Shopping Festival in Beijing.                  Image Supplied

Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang kicks off the 11:11 Global Shopping Festival in Beijing. Image Supplied

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.

Ren Xiaotong, a 27-year-old accountant in Beijing, said she suspected online stores jacked up their prices in the lead-up to Singles Day so they could declare that items were discounted.

The spending binge has for years eclipsed Cyber Monday in the US for online purchases made on a single day.

Over the last decade, Alibaba has nearly single-handedly turned Singles Day - November 11, or 11/11 - into a cultural phenomenon and by far the biggest day of the year for online shopping.

For comparison, Amazon's sales were estimated to have reached roughly $4.2 billion over the company's 36-hour Prime Day in July.

2017's Singles' Day brought in $25 billion in sales in just a single 24-hour period, reports CNBC. However, it did begin life as a celebration of the bachelor life before being taken over as a celebration of relationships akin to Valentines Day until it again morphed into the Chinese version of Black Friday or Cyber Monday but 2.5 times bigger.

The event was kicked off on Saturday with a gala featuring U.S. singer Mariah Carey, a Japanese Beyoncé impersonator and a shoe-shopping-themed Cirque du Soleil performance. Wrong. Singles' Day dwarfs Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

Alibaba amplifies the attention with 24 hours of festivities that rotate each year through different cities in China.

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Alibaba's Singles' Day sale is just not an online sale fest.

Will Singles Day keep on growing?

Alibaba's founder Jack Ma also attended the event. "It's when retailers use the best products and best prices to show their gratitude to our consumers". The company had announced in September earlier this year that the current chief executive Daniel Zhang will take over as chairman next year.

Chinese e-commerce platforms have come under fire in the past for peddling low-quality and counterfeit items.

"With an increasing number of promotion events a year, consumers no longer feel that Double 11 is the only opportunity to get good bargains", said Pedro Yip, partner at consulting firm Oliver Wyman.

The opening of 11.11 global shopping event was enlivened by performances featuring Mariah Carey, Cirque du Soleil and many more.

Early sales figures are an indication that China's ongoing trade war with the United States has done little to dent domestic consumption so far.

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