Are you ready for the “buy buy buy” day?
The massive shopping holiday known as Singles Day in China falls on November 11. “Singles Day” is mainly celebrated by young and single Chinese. China is the only country in the world that has set aside a special day for singles to celebrate their lives (and shop).
China's Singles' Day explainedThe massive shopping holiday known as Singles Day in China falls on November 11. “Singles Day” is mainly celebrated by young and single Chinese. China is the only country in the world that has set aside a special day for singles to celebrate their lives (and shop).
What is Single’s Day?
The tradition of celebrating being single started at Nanjing University in 1993 and soon became popular among university students in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province. Later, Singles’ Day became a festival celebrated by fashionable single people across the country.
Singles would gather for dinner and pay for themselves to show their independence. It became popular and turned into a campus cultural event.
How do people celebrate?
Singles’ Day is also called Chinese Black Friday, with retailers offering heavy discounts online. Shoppers have their online carts full, itching for the festival to kick off at midnight Tuesday.
What do they buy? Everything and anything, from cookware to TVs to jewelry to olive oil. Or at least they try — some may find their items quickly sold out.
“All items in my shopping cart are sold out after 12 a.m. I haven’t had time to check out.”—-Weibo user “shuishishuidetianxiawushuang-KZ”
“I started putting things in my shopping cart four days ago, waiting for the prices to change to the deals. I refreshed my phone until it was midnight,” Du Yubin, a digital producer at CCTV America, said. Working in Washington, D.C., 11 a.m. EST translates to midnight in Beijing.
“Traffic was so heavy I had to refresh every five minutes. I wasn’t successful until 20 minutes later.”
Traffic was indeed heavy: Tmall, comparable to Amazon in China, reported $5 billion in sales with the first 1 hour and 13 minutes.
This chart shows the share of shopping done by mobile phones at the top five Chinese online retailers on Singles’ Day compared to U.S. mobile consumer spending on Cyber Monday in 2014. It was found that while 22 percent of Cyber Monday sales in the U.S. were done on mobile, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba generated almost double that — 42.6 percent — of its Singles’ Day sales on mobile.
Both Cyber Monday and Singles’ Day are the biggest online retailing days in their respective home markets. In the U.S., online shopping in 2014 on Black Friday and Cyber Monday totalled $3.5 billion. Singles’ Day saw $9.3 billion, according to Alibaba.
A little more than half of online shoppers said they planned to spend more during the Double Eleven festival this year than they did last year, according to a survey by the consulting firm Nielsen. On average, shoppers are expected to spend over 1,700 yuan ($267), a 22 percent increase from last year.
For comparison, Americans spent $160 online on Cyber Monday in 2014.
Besides shopping, more and more singles who have passed their mid twenties join in the celebrations. These single people, who are called “leftover” men and women, can find singledom to be joyful despite pressures to marry.
However, while some choose to say goodbye to their single status on this day, some are now delaying marriage as well.
Some attend ‘blind date’ parties. In addition to meaning ‘single,’ the four 1’s in the date can also mean ‘only one’ as in ‘the only one for me.’ Some people will use this date and this meaning to tell their special someone that they are the only ‘one’ in their heart.
China’s two major e-commerce giants, JD.com and Alibaba, are gearing up for their biggest day of sales during the year. Since Alibaba Group (which operates the e-commerce platforms Taobao and Tmall) launched its first sales campaign in 2009, Singles’ Day has become the country’s biggest annual commercial holiday.
This statistic presents the number of orders generated through Alibaba’s Tmall and Taobao e-commerce properties during the 24-hour Singles’ Day sales. In 2014, online shoppers placed more than 278.5 million orders on online shopping sites. In 2009, Alibaba Group created the connection between Singles’ Day and online shopping as the company tried to generate sales for its Tmall unit by offering special pricings and promotions within a 24 hour period. Today, Singles Day online sales surpass U.S. Cyber Monday sales by a wide margin.
Singles’ Day goes global in a big way
Singles’ Day is a mind-bending shopping blitzkrieg you might call “Shoppa-palooza.” The closest U.S. equivalents are the retail industry’s “Black Friday” and “Cyber-Monday” sales.
Now combine both those sales, pump them full of steroids, and you get close to sale volume booked by e-retailer Alibaba in a couple of hours.
The shopping blowout is going global in a big way. This year’s sale offers around 6 million products from around the world. CCTV America’s Shraysi Tandon reports.