Alibaba Singles’ Day sales hit $1 billion in the first minute

The 24-hour online shopping craziness that is Singles’ Day got off to a flying start on Monday, November 11 when Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba announced that sales hit $1 billion in the first minute alone. Yes, you read that right — $1 billion worth of sales in the first 60 seconds.

At the time of writing, with the day reaching the halfway mark, sales via Alibaba have already topped $27 billion, putting it $4 billion short of smashing through the $31 billion record achieved during last year’s Singles’ Day. And that sum doesn’t even include other online retailers such as JD.com that are also seeking to cash in on the event.

Singles’ Day originated in China as a way for those without a significant other to enjoy special events together and splash out on themselves. In recent years it’s transformed into a massive shopping event that scores way more online sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined as folks snap up bargains that include consumer electronics and luxury goods, and plenty more besides.

Alibaba said it expects more than half a billion people globally to hit the buy button during Monday’s shopping frenzy, an increase of around 100 million on last year.

In recent years, Alibaba has launched the event with a glitzy TV show featuring stars both local and international, and this year was no different, with special guests including Taylor Swift and Asian pop star G.E.M.on hand to help increase the hype.

But the shopping festival doesn’t come without criticism, with Alibaba having been slammed for harming the environment with so many packages shipping in such a short space of time. In a bid to make amends, the company has this year set up recycling centers at 75,000 locations, while also working with courier companies to collect used boxes and wrapping. JD.com, too, says it is using more recyclable materials than ever before to ship its packages.

If you missed out on Singles’ Day but have a few spare bucks in the bank for Black Friday later this month, read on to find out how you can give yourself the best chance of snagging some of the great bargains set to land. And don’t forget Cyber Monday, too, which presents another great opportunity for you to make a significant dent in your savings.