The World’s Biggest Shopping Day

Singles' Day, the world's highest-grossing online retail event, made the Alibaba Group record sales of £9.4 billion this year.

For the past three years, the Chinese discount deals day has generated more revenue than Cyber Monday and Black Friday combined. With the doors now open to international shoppers, that momentum looks set to continue.

Singles' Day started in the early 1990s as a playful response to St Valentine's Day. Students at Nanjing University decided to celebrate their single status with a bout of retail therapy

They chose 11 November because in China a single man is colloquially referred to as a 'bare stick' and the two pairs of '1's in the 11/11 date look like a pair of bare sticks.

Profits: "Open Sesame"

Everything kicked up a gear in 2009 when Jack Ma, charismatic CEO of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, got on board and offered massive 24-hour discounts.

This year, the site saw sales worth 91.2bn yuan ($14.3bn; £9.4bn) by the close of trade, a 60% increase from last year. The firm said more than 27 million purchases came via mobile devices in the first hour. Alibaba accounts for more than 80% of China's internet sales market.

Friday is the new Monday

Cyber Monday is losing out to Black Friday as more shoppers take advantage of online deals on the day after Thanksgiving. People are snapping up the gadgets before the weekend and Black Friday digital deals are making it harder for retailers to make their margins on Cyber Monday.