Singles’ Day shopping spree smashes previous records

Global Business

Journalists film a giant screen showing a total sales transacted of e-commerce giant Alibaba, on the “Singles’ Day” global online shopping festival held at National Aquatic Center, also known as the “Water Cube” in Beijing, China, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. China’s largest Internet retailer sales reached $14.3 billion on the country’s biggest online shopping holiday, smashing last year’s figure to set a new record for a single day of sales. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

It was just before midnight Tuesday evening and the office lights were still on full blast. About 400 employees, armed with Gatorades, were hunkering down at KSW Food Company for an all-nighter.

The reason was that Singles’ Day, the 24-hour shopping bonanza, was about to start. Within minutes, the company’s sales had already topped 1 million yuan ($157,172).

KSW wasn’t alone. By 1:14 a.m., sales on the TMall platform exceeded 30 billion yuan ($4.7 billion). For context, all Cyber Monday sales in the U.S. topped $2 billion in 2014. 

Singles day

An employee at KSW Food Company takes a nap at her desk with the computer on in the early morning on Nov. 11, 2015.(Photo/IC)

Explainer: What is Singles’ Day?

Within 12 hours, e-commerce giant Alibaba reported sales had reached 57.1 billion yuan ($8.9 billion).

By the end of the day, shopping on Alibaba was 91.2 billion yuan ($14.3 billion) – a whopping 60 percent increase from Singles’ Day shopping in 2014. Alibaba estimates it makes up 80 percent of China’s online shopping market.

Workers sort parcels for their customers near the JD.com delivery bikes during the Singles Day online shopping festival, in Beijing, China, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. Shoppers spent over a billion US dollars within 24 hours during the country's biggest online shopping holiday. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Workers sort parcels for their customers near the JD.com delivery bikes during the “Singles’ Day” online shopping festival, in Beijing, China, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Now that the shopping is done, the purchases need to be delivered. Some 1.7 million workers will deliver 7.6 billion packages, using 200 planes, 5,000 warehouses, and 400,000 vehicles according to analysis by the BBC.

Daniel Craig and Jack Ma.

Daniel Craig and Jack Ma.

This “Double 11” day was likely the most global, with 5,000 brands from the U.S., Japan, South Korea, and Europe making their products available on Chinese e-commerce sites, including Macy’s of the U.S. and Sainsbury’s of the U.K., to shoppers from 200 countries and regions according to People’s Daily.

A lavish, live show was broadcast across the country, with celebrities like Daniel Craig making appearances. The Bond actor was on hand with Alibaba chairman Jack Ma to draw 11 winners in arguably the best deal of the day where people could buy a Cadillac for 1 yuan (about $0.60).

Ma said in an interview on Wednesday that there is still huge potential in China’s domestic demand and that there’s no better way to tap into this potential than in a shopping carnival like the Nov. 11 shop fest.

“We want to hold the Nov. 11 online shopping festival for 100 years. There are still 93 shopping events to go,” he said.


Singles’ Day in Hong Kong: a huge shopping event

While some Hong Kong retailers are jumping on the ‘double-11’ bandwagon, hundreds more are banding together to create a local version of the online shopping craze. CCTV’s Pamela Ambler finds out more.

Singles' day in Hong Kong- Chinese 'Black Friday' and 'cyber Monday'

Singles' day in Hong Kong- Chinese 'Black Friday' and 'cyber Monday'

While some Hong Kong retailers are jumping on the 'double-11' bandwagon, hundreds more are banding together to create a local version of the online shopping craze. CCTV's Pamela Ambler finds out more.


Jun Li on China Singles’ Day

CCTV America’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke to Jun Li, an Assistant Professor of Technology and Operations at the University of Michigan’s Ross Business School.

Jun Li on China Singles' Day

Jun Li on China Singles' Day

CCTV America's Rachelle Akuffo spoke to Jun Li, an Assistant Professor of Technology and Operations at the University of Michigan's Ross Business School.


Gregory Yingnien Tsang on China Singles’ Day

CCTV America spoke to Gregory Yingnien Tsang, a current affairs commentator, on the international influence of China Singles’ Day.

Gregory Yingnien Tsang on China Singles\' Day

Gregory Yingnien Tsang on China Singles\' Day

CCTV America spoke to Gregory Yingnien Tsang, a current affairs commentator, on the international influence of China Singles' Day.