• Frenzy exceeds 2016 high of 121 billion yuan just after 1 p.m.
  • Samsung, Shiseido among brands topping 100 million yuan
The 2017 Alibaba Singles’ Day Global Shopping Festival gala in Shanghai, China, on Nov. 10.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Singles’ Day shopping bonanza broke last year’s all-time high of 120.7 billion yuan ($18.2 billion) by 1:09 p.m. in Beijing, with about 11 hours still to go before the final bell.

The annual frenzy had already hit $8.6 billion in sales in the first hour after starting at midnight, and by 8 a.m. some 82 brands had topped 100 million yuan in sales including New Balance, Samsung and Shiseido, according to Alizila, a blog run by the company. More than 90 percent of transactions were done via mobile.

Shoppers from at least 192 countries and regions swarmed the e-commerce giant to scoop up discounted lobster, iPhones and refrigerators, at a rate of as many as 256,000 transactions per second. The Chinese company hosted a star-studded gala with tennis star Maria Sharapova and American rapper Pharrell Williams to pump sales.

Citigroup Inc. has predicted transactions will rise by more than 30 percent to 158 billion yuan this year. While that’s only half the growth rate last year, the event still dwarfs others such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Billionaire founder Jack Ma is using it as a testing ground for his plans to revamp China’s $4 trillion traditional retail sector with technology, an experiment that could help the behemoth gain an edge in China’s saturated market.

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