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Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba toppled its own Singles' Day record with $17B in sales

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November 11 is Singles' Day in China. It's a "holiday" with some very real sales figures. 

$1 billion in 5 minutes

What Black Friday and Cyber Monday is to U.S. consumers, Singles' Day is to Chinese consumers. It has become the biggest shopping day in China and puts even Amazon Prime Day sales to shame.

For Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, the day brings in some of its biggest sales. This year, Chinese consumers spent nearly $1 billion in the first five minutes. With hours left before the event ended, Alibaba had smashed its previous sales record with $15 billion in online shopping.

By the day's close, Alibaba had made $17 billion in sales.

Alibaba said this year's hottest sellers were consumer electronics and clothes.

Here's some perspective: In 2015, U.S. consumers spent about $7.5 billion during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping weekend. This summer, Amazon said Prime Day 2016 was its biggest sales day ever. Retail advisory firm FBIC estimated $525 million in total sales.

“Back in 2013, RMB 35 billion was our one-day GMV. Now we can achieve it in one hour,” said Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang, who invented Singles' Day in 2009.

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