British actor Daniel Craig and Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma attend the pre-Singles' Day ceremony at the Water Cube on Nov. 10, 2015, in Beijing, China.
Photograph by ChinaFotoPress — Getty Images
By Jonathan Chew
November 11, 2015

Shoppers have spent $9.3 billion in the first 12 hours of Alibaba’s Singles’ Day, the one-day extravaganza in China that has become the world’s biggest day of shopping.

The Chinese e-commerce giant has already surpassed last year’s record of $9 billion for the Nov. 11 shopping day in half the time, and with such eye-popping numbers, will probably exceed the $13 billion sales mark, analysts told The Wall Street Journal. “It’s definitely exceeding what most people were expecting,” Daiwa Capital Markets analyst John Choi told the newspaper.

According to Alibaba (BABA), the company raced past the $1 billion sales mark in just eight minutes, and saw $5 billion in transactions within 90 minutes. In comparison, shoppers in the U.S. spent roughly $5 billion online for Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined last year. The amount made on Singles’ Day this year seems to validate CEO Daniel Zhang’s pre-Singles’ Day proclamation that “the whole world will witness the power of Chinese consumption.”

As mentioned in our recent interview with Zhang, Alibaba’s day of unfettered shopping was created in 2009 as a way to drum up sales on a day normally used to celebrate singlehood in China. Zhang said this year’s Singles Day would include six million products from over 40,000 merchants, and more than 30,000 brands from 25 countries, including Estée Lauder, Zara, Burberry, and Uniqlo. The day has also been blamed for an unprecedented shortage of baby formula in Australia, as Chinese living Down Under have been bulk-buying premium brands to hawk it to shoppers during Singles’ Day.

In the lead-up to Singles’ Day, Alibaba hosted a four-hour televised event called “Singles’ Day Eve” that featured a performance by Americal Idol finalist Adam Lambert, an on-stage appearance by Daniel Craig of James Bond-fame with company founder Jack Ma, and Kevin Spacey wishing Chinese customers a “Happy Singles’ Day” in a special House of Cards-themed ad:

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