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

SHANGHAI CHINA- NOVEMBER 10 A general view of atmosphere at 2017 Alibaba Singles' Day Global Shopping Festival gala at Mercedes Benz Arena

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It is held today, November 11 - or 11.11 - because the "1" is meant to represent an individual not in a romantic relationship. Last year, Alibaba shipped more than 1 billion packages and is on track to well outpace that this year. The television gala is equivalent to the Super Bowl half-time show. For Alibaba, it's the biggest single day of the year, and the company is gearing up to ship more than 1 billion packages as a result of the holiday.

In the first two hours of Singles' Day this year, Alibaba pulled in a massive $12 billion in sales, according to the company.

Set to kick off at midnight Friday, the one-day Chinese shopping spree is expected to beat the last year's record of $17.8 billion in sales. Sales online in China have exceeded the two biggest shopping days in the United States combined - Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Alibaba has not only transformed consumer behavior in China, but merchant behavior as well.

New Look worldwide managing director Sven Gaede said that as well as generating "great" sales for the business, Singles" Day has "broader benefits in building brand awareness and attracting customers'.

Nick Landon, managing director of Royal Mail Parcels, said: 'UK brands are really clicking with China's shoppers'.

However, there is some doubt about the scale of the Singles' Day sales.

The offer is significantly lower than the original price of 99,999 yuan, and the actual selling price will be even less than 11,111 yuan after using store coupons and other discounts provided by Alibaba.