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Alibaba’s Annual Singles’ Day Shopping Bonanza Off to Flying Start - Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd (NYSE:BABA)’s annual Singles’ Day is off to a scorching start, hitting 84 billion yuan ($12 billion) in the first hour, up 22% from last year’s early haul of 69 billion yuan.

Also referred to as the “Double Eleven Festival” because it falls on Nov. 11, the event has become a ritual for Alibaba, although it is not clear if the event provides huge profit to the company given the enormous discounting involved.

Everything from iPhones and coffee machines to snacks are on huge sale online, and on average more merchandise is sold online on Nov. 11 in China than during the five-day U.S. holiday buying spree that begins on Thanksgiving and ends on Cyber Monday.

Last year, sales at Alibaba climbed 27% to 213.5 billion yuan, or the equivalent to $30.7 billion at the time.

Analysts are paying close attention to the whole event this year to gauge how willing Chinese consumers are to spend as economic growth threatens to dip below 6%.

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