Singles Day

Single’s Day: The World’s Biggest Shopping Day

  • November 11th, 2016
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The biggest shopping day of the year is upon us. You are probably thinking, isn’t it a bit early to be talking about Black Friday? Well, this day is not Black Friday, it is even bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined, it is called Singles Day and it happens ever year on November 11th.

Here are 11 things you need to know about Singles Day:

  • When is it? The “holiday” is celebrated annually on November 11th. The date was chosen because of the number 1 and its connection to being single. In addition, the way the date of 11/11 is written in numerals it looks like a series of sticks (1’s) –just like a group of single people.
  • Who started it? In 1993, students in Nanjing University (China) initiated the day of celebration to rejoice in one’s singlehood; the day was dedicated as a sort of anti-Valentine’s day.
  • Who coined the name? The original name of the day was Bachelor’s Day as the initial participants were only males. When females joined in on the fun the name was changed to its current one of Singles Day. (Chinese eCommerce giant, Alibaba, trademarked the name Singles Day so the name is somewhat limited in how it can be used.) 
  • How is it observed? The original observation of this special day consisted of going out to bars and karaoke clubs to hang out with other single people. Some also have the tradition of eating four youtiao (a deep fried dough stick that also looks like a one) for breakfast. 
  • What’s the shopping angle? As a day dedicated to singlehood and self love, one of the ways of marking the day is to buy yourself gifts. A day of gift buying spurs promotions which drives even more buying leading to an endless cycle of consumerism.
  • What do people buy? Ostensibly Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals are days when people take advantage of promotions to buy things to give to others as gifts during the upcoming end of year holidays. Singles Day is just about buying things on sale and mostly for oneself.
  • Where is it celebrated? The day began in and is still mostly celebrated in China. While some retailers have tried to bring Singles Day to the US, they have faced stiff challenges since November 11th is already reserved for Veteran’s Day.
  • When did it become popular? In 2009, Alibaba through it’s online shopping sites, Tabao and Tmall introduced the day to the general public with great fanfare as a day to find deals on just about everything. 
  • How big is it? On Singles Day 2014, Alibaba alone conducted $3 billion in online sales in just 24 hours – a 60% YoY increase. Incredibly, there was $2 billion in sales in just the first hour. Last year on Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the US, there was only $4.7 billion in online sales.
  • Why should you care? While this shopping day is primarily in China, many products that are being purchased are from out of China. Many global brands are available for sale on Tmall.com including cars like the Tesla Model S. When the second largest economy in the world decides to have a day dedicated to spending money, it is a good idea for brands everywhere to pay attention. 
  • How big will it be this year? In a recent survey conducted in China, 84% of people plan on participating in someway in the Singles Day madness. Delivery companies are expecting to handle 800 million packages, and the prediction is that Singles Day 2016 will grow by 40% this year.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are no longer just constrained to the US. In the past years, there were even riots that occurred at Black Friday sales in the UK. Yet, with all the attention given to Black Friday, it is astonishing that most people don’t know about the day that makes Black Friday look small in comparison. With the 11 points above, now you know everything there is to know. Keep your eyes peeled for news about the sales numbers of Singles Day 2016 and prepare to be shocked.

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