Alibaba generated $5bn of merchandise sales in the first 90 minutes of sales on Singles’ Day, a Chinese shopping extravaganza that celebrates people who are single.

The $1bn barrier was surpassed in the first eight minutes as merchandise processed through Alipay on Alibaba’s China and international marketplaces far outstripped last year.

In comparison, last year the company took an hour to sell $1.8bn worth of products.

British companies that are taking part in Sales on Alibaba during this year’s Singles’ Day, which falls on November 11 every year, include Marks & Spencer, Topshop, Holland & Barrett and the Royal Mail.

Alibaba group chief executive Daniel Zhang said: “This year, Alibaba has transformed 11.11 into an unprecedented mobile shopping experience.

“Over the course of the 24-hour shopping marathon, consumers will have a new surprise every hour that has been especially tailored for mobile users. The whole world will witness the power of Chinese consumption this November 11.”

Alibaba claims almost 130 million users visited the Mobile Taobao app in the hours preceding Singles’ Day midnight store.

This year’s Singles’ Day shopping day features more than 6 million products from more than 30,000 brands sold by more than 40,000 merchants.