China’s Alibaba records sales worth $1.57 billion in 12 minutes on Singles Day

China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba smashed records on Wednesday with online sales hitting a new high of $1.57 billion within minutes on Singles Day, an online buying fiesta in China akin to America’s Cyber Monday.

The figure stood at 44.2 billion yuan ($6.9 billion) according to the company’s Zhejiang HQ.

Last year, it took 38 minutes to hit the 10 billion yuan mark, and the company is expected to easily break last year’s one-day sales record of 57.1 billion yuan ($10 billion).

Alibaba recorded sales of 10 billion yuan ($1.57 billion) within 12 minutes and 28 seconds of midnight.

This year’s Singles Day shopping extravaganza came only days after China unveiled proposals for the 13th Five-year Plan (2016-2020), which said consumption should play a “fundamental role” in future economic growth as Chinese government reduce the dependence on exports and focus more on domestic consumption.

Starting as in-joke and an excuse for the unattached to celebrate – or poke fun at – their status in the 1990s, Singles Day has evolved into an online shopping spree for all in recent years, as e-commerce operators stepped in to tap into the buying potential of bachelors and discount-savvy netizens.

At first, it was marketed as an “anti-Valentine’s Day”, featuring hefty discounts to attract China’s singletons and price-sensitive buyers.

Alibaba, which operates China’s largest consumer-to-consumer (C2C) and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketplaces Taobao and Tmall, has played a leading role in the Singles’ Day shopping craze but faces increasing competition this year, including from its rival, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Headquartered in the eastern city of Hangzhou, Alibaba does not sell products directly but acts as an electronic middleman, operating China’s most popular consumer-to-consumer platform, Taobao, which is estimated to hold more than 90% of the market.