BEIJING - Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Inc. held its annual "Singles' Day" shopping event Monday, raking in a record-breaking $30.7 billion in sales within the first 18 hours.
Alibaba has turned Singles' Day, which originated in the 1990s in China as an anti-Valentine's day for single people, into the world's biggest online shopping bonanza in just over a decade.
This year's 24-hour shopping extravaganza kicked off with a countdown gala at an arena in Shanghai, where a handful of entertainers including pop diva Taylor Swift performed in a live concert.
Meanwhile, millions of people across China waited for the clock to strike midnight, ready to click the checkout button with their online shopping carts already loaded with anything from the latest tech gadgets to a bag of dried dates.
Alibaba reported that sales reached $1 billion in just over one minute and $12 billion within the first hour, with Japan ranking as the top import country in sales.
This year marked Alibaba's first Singles' Day with Daniel Zhang as executive chairman after Jack Ma, the company's celebrated founder, retired two months ago.
Over the years, Chinese competitors like JD.com and offline stores have also joined in on the event, which has spread to other countries throughout Southeast Asia.
The event is now nearly four times the size of America's biggest online shopping holiday Cyber Monday, held on the first Monday after Thanksgiving Day.