Chinese internet giant Alibaba is fond of crowing about its online shopping records, and that's truer than ever this year. The company's annual Global Shopping Festival, aka Singles Day, broke last year's record by selling $30.8 billion in goods across 230 countries over the space of 24 hours, a hefty 27 percent increase over the $25.3 billion from 2017. However, the initial burst also stood out. It took just 85 seconds for Alibaba to sell its first $1 billion, and an hour to top $10 billion. That's well past US holiday sales -- for context, Black Friday 2017 'only' generated $5 billion in online sales.
The brands that most profited from the event included Apple, Dyson, Gap and Nike, among other big names.
While not everyone is necessarily keen to celebrate a shopping frenzy (the event is basically an ode to unfettered consumerism), it's also no mean feat considering the obstacles Alibaba had to face. US tariffs potentially affected the cost of some products, and the Chinese yuan isn't worth as much as it was a year earlier. Alibaba also cut its revenue expectations as a result of its less-than-certain future. This suggests that the festival is large enough to be independent of the ups and downs of China -- like it or not, it's a cultural institution for some people.