The 39 per cent increase in sales defied forecasts and expectations of an economic slowdown in China, the world’s second biggest economy and Australia’s largest trading partner.
Singles Day is now regarded as a barometer for China’s 300 million middle class consumers.
Originally set up as a celebration for China’s lonely hearts, Singles’ Day has now become a global event, exceeding the combined sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the United States.
Shoppers from at least 225 countries and regions swarmed Alibaba and scooped up discounted lobster, iPhones and refrigerators with at least 82 brands including Nike Inc., Estee Lauder, Samsung, Zara and Uniqlo Co reporting strong sales.
Australia was ranked as the third biggest selling country.
Singles Day kicked off after a star-studded event in Shanghai late on Friday with film star Nicole Kidman and American rapper Pharrell Williams.
The orders started pouring in after midnight.
Alibaba chief executive officer Daniel Zhang said the company wants to make Singles Day more global and plans to take it overseas. He did not give a time frame.
“We want to make Singles’ Day a more global event,” Zhang told Bloomberg during an interview in Shanghai. “We could take the gala overseas very soon.”
Alibaba is setting itself as the Chinese rival to Amazon.
Working off cloud computing, Hangzhou-based Alibaba has connected China’s six million convenience stores to the Internet, using an app called Ling Shou Tong, meaning “connect retail.”
It has been converting 100,000 retail outlets into so-called smart stores and ships its goods from dedicated Alibaba warehouses, getting rid of the middle man and, in theory, lifting the retailer’s profit.
It has also spent billions buying grocers, shopping malls and department stores.