Alibaba sales surge to $5 billion in 15 minutes on Singles Day

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The e-commerce giant said that the first delivery was made in 12 minutes after midnight.

The biggest shopping holiday in the world isn't Black Friday.

Singles Day is a made-up celebration that gained popularity in China as an alternative to Valentine's day.

Alibaba said gross merchandise volume (GMV) exceeded 10bn yuan (£1bn) in a little over three minutes and the total had reached 19.1bn yuan in under six minutes - more than the entire day's sales in 2012.

The price is a reference to 11.11, the first name given to the day, meant to represent both the date (11 November) and the single people doing the shopping.

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Comparing Single's Day to Amazon's "Prime Day" gives a good idea of the massive scale of the holiday.

Feeling down on "Singles Day" this weekend? Last year, Alibaba shipped more than 1 billion packages and is on track to well outpace that this year. In the first hour of Singles Day a year ago, about 175,000 hours per second came in.

Alibaba also hosted a star-studded gala enlisting tennis star Maria Sharapova and American rapper Pharrell Williams to pump sales, Bloomberg reported. Alibaba's Ma, a tai chi aficionado, is set unveil a short film starring himself performing martial arts alongside Jet Li, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story"'s Donnie Yen and Thailand's Tony Jaa. The Chinese liquor brand Jiang Xiao Bai is offering an enticing deal for those who have an insatiable craving for the strong distilled Chinese spirit know as baijiu. The pictures of the bottles are wrapped with the words "This liquor is your partner for life". It appears they have taken that into account.

The endless batch can be inherited by a family member if the customer dies within five years of the purchase.

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