Alibaba (BABA) has already surpassed last year's total sales in the online shopping extravaganza known as "Singles Day" in China, indicating strong consumer sentiment in the world's second-largest economy.

As of 3:20 pm China Standard Time (2:20 am Eastern), 15 hours into the event, Alibaba had beat last year's total sales in local currency with sales of Rmb 91.2 billion ($13.4 billion).

Singles Day was started in 1990 by students as the anti-Valentine's Day, with the date of 11/11 deemed the loneliest of the year. Online shopping giant Alibaba started to use the holiday advertise its products seven years ago.

Total sales hit $1 billion in the first four minutes after the sale began at midnight China Standard Time.

Last year the company recorded sales of $14.3 billion on November 11. This year it has expanded the promotion to Hong Kong and Taiwan for the first time this year. Shopper have also been able to buy through their virtual devices this year.

But the sales won't necessarily translate into profit for the company, which is being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for accounting of last year's Singles Days numbers.

Shares in Alibaba fell 2.41% yesterday in New York to $94.34 and are off from their year high of $109.87 in September.

Singles Day is the biggest retail event in the year, beating Cyber Monday and Black Friday.

Kobe Bryant, soccer star David Beckham and his wife - former pop star and fashion designer Victoria Beckham - appeared at a kickoff event for the extravaganza. Pop star Katy Perry was due to appear, but pulled out at the last minute.

Alibaba also built more than 16,000 Taobao Rural Service Centers to cater to shoppers in rural China who have seen an increase in disposable income. The centers allow customers to order merchandise online that is not available locally.

Other online shopping companies, including JD.com and Amazon, have also started to use the holiday for promotion. Last year, Chinese consumers purchased about $55.7 billion on Singles Day.

Amazon (AMZN) , who has yet to get a strong foothold in China, could suffer. According to iResearch, Amazon has less than 1.5% of the market. In a bid to gain more consumers Amazon set up a store in Alibaba's T-mall.

The company also launched Amazon prime in China late last month, which offers customers free, cross-border shipping from the Amazon Global Store and no minimum free domestic shipping.

Amazon stock were at an all-time high on Oct. 16 2016 hitting $844.36. They have fallen back since then, losing 3.82% yesterday to $742.38.

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