“Singles’ Day” shopping spree slow to catch on in United States

World Today

Single’s Day is a huge deal in China, but the spending spree is mostly unknown in the United States. It’s overshadowed by shopping holidays like Black Friday, but some have begun recognizing the event.

CGTN’s Liling Tan reports.

“I hook you up with more freebies than anyone on YouTube, and I’m celebrating Singles’ Day!”

YouTube Deal Guy Matt Granite is enthusiastic about his support for one of the largest shopping holidays in the world, that’s still quite small in the US.

“It falls on Veteran’s Day, so you already have something else being celebrated that’s not particularly tied to deals and sales,” Granite explained of the day’s relatively low-profile. “And then on top of that, you have this pre-Black Friday rush.”

Last year, Black Friday took in a reported $3.3 billion dollars in sales. But in China, Singles’ Day pulled in more than five times as much on Alibaba’s platform, nearly $18 billion dollars.

That’s why U.S. retailers – rather than consumers – are slowly starting to court this Chinese singles festival. Participating in Singles’ Day promotions on DealMoon.com, an online retailer focusing on Chinese expats around the world, are stores including Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Bloomingdales.

Other retailers are stepping up their game as well, but are specific with the deals they offer.

“You see Macy’s and AliExpress and Amazon getting in on the momentum, but the items they’re showcasing [are] definitely geared toward the Asian buyer,” Granite said.

This potentially limits the appeal to customers in the US. Even in New York’s Chinatown, not a single Singles’ Day promotion can be found.

Eva Sam, also known as “A$AP Eva,” runs a jewelry store famous among rappers and hip-hop artists. Her store is the go-to spot for serious bling, and does very well on Mother’s Day, Valentines’ Day, and Lunar New Year.

But Singles’ Day? Not so much.

“Singles’ Day in New York is not popular yet,” Sam said.

One reason is that e-commerce and cashless payments aren’t as widely used in America as they are in Asia. But this could change when America catches up with the cashless revolution, and catches on to the enormous buying power of Singles’ Day.

“Obviously, who wants to be carrying loads of coins and cash and get your hands dirty and be a mugging victim, when you can use a cellphone?” Wellington Chen, Chinatown Partnership’s executive director, asked.

With Android Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay making mobile payments more accessible, however, an opportunity lies ahead.

“It won’t take a genius to figure out that retailers here will pretty soon start shifting their focus to this prime target day.”