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Alibaba: Singles Day sales top $25 billion, break last year’s record by lunchtime

Workers handle boxes at a sorting center in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province during last year’s Singles Day.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. had been expected to set records with this year’s Singles Day, and the Chinese e-commerce giant apparently did it with plenty of time to spare.

Singles Day 2017, or the 11/11 Global Shopping Festival, surpassed last year’s total of 120.7 billion yuan (about $18 billion) by 1:09 p.m. in Beijing on Saturday, said Alibaba in a blog post.

The final tally — as of midnight in Beijing (11 a.m. Eastern Time) — topped $25.3 billion, representing a 39% rise from the 2016 event’s sales total, according to the company.

That exceeded the $23.3 billion to $24.4 billion for Singles Day 2017 that SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analysts had expected.

Singles Day gets its name from the date Nov. 11, or 11/11, and it initially served as a day for China’s unmarried young adults to celebrate, as a recent Wall Street Journal report noted. Alibaba BABA, +0.69% has turned it into a spending festival that tops the West’s Black Friday frenzy, making Singles Day the biggest shopping day for the global e-commerce industry.