Alibaba Singles Day sale
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd Executive Vice Chairman Joe Tsai, retired NBA player Kobe Bryant, former captain of England's soccer team David Beckham, Founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group Jack Ma, and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd Chief Marketing Officer Chris Tung pose for a photo prior to the launch of the Singles Day sale China Daily/via REUTERS

Alibaba has raked in over $13bn (£10.32bn) in the first 12 hours of its annual Singles Day sale on 11 November. The Chinese e-commerce giant posted transactions that were significantly higher than what it reported during last year's shopping blitz. The amount also takes into account pre-orders made by customers.

Singles' Day or Guanggun Jie is celebrated by young people in China who enjoy being single. Even the date was specially chosen because the '1' in 11.11 signifies singularity. In 2009, Alibaba decided to turn the occasion into an excuse for people to treat themselves and created their one-day only sale.

Over time, the retail event became one of the largest shopping days internationally and has gone on to include events featuring globally renowned celebrities and performers.

This year, David and Victoria Beckham, Kobe Bryant, singer Coco Lee and band One Republic were present for the launch of the event along with billionaire owner Jack Ma. Katy Perry was also expected to perform but had to cancel due to a family emergency.

"Back in 2013, 35bn yuan ($5.15bn) was our one-day GMV (gross merchandise volume)," said Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang in a live micro-blog post on Alibaba's event. "Now we can achieve it in one hour."

Thanks to the brand's app, this year, the company reported that around 85% of purchases during the first two hours took place on mobile phones. The e-shopping company recorded $5bn worth of sales in the first hour of the event.

"We're seeing an even bigger shift from offline shopping to online shopping," Kitty Fok, managing director of global market intelligence firm IDC China, told the BBC.

"And there is also more of a focus on rural areas. People in the villages who could not do online shopping now have mobile phones and so can do that."

Digital performance testing agency Dynatrace believes China's faster websites and apps help in creating a better interface for consumers and thus leads to higher sales.

"Chinese retailers are averaging an interactive site load time of 3.4 seconds, compared with international players who are averaging 7.7 seconds," VP Marketing Emea and Apac for Dynatrace Dave Anderson explained.

Joe Tsai, Alibaba vice-chairman echoed a similar view. "In the US if you log on to Amazon, it's a chore. But here in China shopping is entertainment," he said according to Financial Times.

Alibaba's rival and retail companies also held Singles Day sales and have launched the retail bonanza on an international scale, larger than that of Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to incorporate the latest developments regarding Alibaba's sales.