Alibaba amassed a record $17.8bn during its eighth annual 11.11 global shopping festival – dubbed Singles’ Day – exceeding last year’s total by 25%.

The Chinese ecommerce group – via which UK retailers including Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer sell goods to China – flew past last year’s final sales figure just over 15 hours into the 24-hour event. 

“Tonight, the furthest reaches of the world feels just as close as the sidewalk outside our house,” Alibaba blasted as the clock struck midnight.

Within the first five minutes, sales exceeded USD$1bn, as measured in total gross merchandise volume (GMV).

Alibaba notched up $5.2bn in the first hour – a landmark which took 90 minutes to reach on Singles Day last year – and GMV reached the $15bn mark after 19 hours and 37 minutes.

Another record was smashed 14 hours and 33 minutes into the sale, when the number of orders received surpassed the 467 million generated during the entire 11.11 festival last year.

Alibaba chief executive Daniel Zhang said: “Chinese consumers purchased more in the first hour of 11.11 this year than the entire 24 hours in 2013, reflecting the incredible evolution of our global shopping festival.

“This unprecedented level of engagement demonstrates both the consumption power of Chinese consumers and their embrace of online shopping as a lifestyle.”

The 2016 11.11 festival kicked off at 12:00am China-time following a televised countdown gala in Shenzhen.

Around 80% of the transactions made during the 24-hour sale were completed on a mobile device.

In the event’s final hour, Alibaba founder and executive chairman Jack Ma pledged to carry on Singles Day.

“We will be making it more global and even more fun,” he added.