One minute, $1 bln: China's Singles' Day shopping fest

The countdown to China's Singles' Day shopping event is over.

And it looks like another blockbuster year.

Transactions passed the billion dollar mark in just over a minute.

The event is run by retail giant Alibaba.

It's the world's biggest online shopping fest, akin to Black Friday or Cyber Monday in the U.S.

But it dwarfs both of those.

This year analysts predict sales will pass 35 billion dollars - more than four times Cyber Monday.

About 500 million people are expected to make a purchase - up 100 million on last year.

No razzmatazz is spared.

U.S. pop star Taylor Swift was flown in to provide the music:

Singles' Day has become a barometer for Chinese consumer sentiment.

This year there is one warning sign.

Alibaba says sales in the first nine hours were up 25% - a smaller rise than in 2018.

But the gain may satisfy investors.

Alibaba is expected to sell 15 billion dollars worth of shares in a Hong Kong IPO before year's end.

It's been battling slower sales growth in China's big cities.

That has spurred it to target shoppers in the country's smaller towns.

On the evidence of Singles' Day at least, those efforts might be paying off.