Yerevan, 23.January.2018,
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Singles Day: Alibaba closes in on record sales

E-commerce giant Alibaba looks set to smash the sales record for its annual Singles Day event.

About 12 hours into the event, sales had reached 82.4bn yuan ($12.1bn; £10bn), the firm said. Last year's record was $14.3bn.

But some have questioned the accuracy of the numbers, amid claims of inflated sales data at online retailers across China.

Merchants passing off counterfeit goods as genuine is also an industry problem.

Alibaba reported 85% of purchases had been made on mobile phones during Singles Day.

The company has also been experimenting with new technology including augmented reality and virtual reality to give shoppers other ways of buying items.

And the event had a blistering start with sales hitting $5bn (£4bn) in the first hour, Alibaba said, though that total included pre-orders made by customers who could "lock in" prices. It took 90 minutes to hit that milestone in 2015.

Singles Day is held every year on 11 November. The day is also referred to as Double Eleven because of its date.

Originally claimed as a celebration for China's young singletons, Alibaba turned it into a shopping bonanza in 2009.

While Alibaba is undeniably the driving force behind the event, other retailers have also stared to piggyback off the idea, including extending the concept to Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Alibaba's rival JD.com, which focuses more on electronics, reported receiving more orders in the first nine hours of trading on Friday than it had done during the whole of Singles Day 2014.

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