Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba cashed a record 213.5bn yuan (£24bn) in sales on Sunday during its 24-hour online retail frenzy Singles' Day, but the event's annual growth dropped to its slowest rate.

Shoppers in China and across the world snapped up hot items including iPhones, furniture and milk powder starting pre-dawn, with Alibaba recording roughly $10bn in sales in the first hour after midnight.

Singles' Day, also called “Double 11”, is the world's biggest online sales event, outstripping the sales of US shopping holidays Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

The Chinese event was originally a novelty student holiday to celebrate being single, countering Valentines Day, but has since grown into a month-long online shopping festival that peaks with a 24-hour sale on November 11.

This year, the company surpassed last year's full-day sales record of 168bn yuan in just under sixteen hours.

Despite the record haul, the annual sales growth rate fell from 39 per cent to 27 per cent, at the low end of analyst estimates, and the slowest rate in the event's 10-year history.

Earlier this month it revised down its full-year sales outlook by 4-6 per cent, sending further chills through the company's stock price.

While small appliances and cosmetics were strong on Sunday, sales in big-ticket items including large appliances slowed alongside a downturn in the housing market, Alibaba vice chairman Joe Tsai told press.

“If people aren't buying new homes, they aren't buying appliances,” he said.