Singles’ Day 11.11(双十一)

Someone is happy 🙂

Singles’ Day is coming up!  In just a few days on 11 November, it’ll be Singles’ Day in China.  This day was originally a day for single people to celebrate being single..  However over time, the idea got bigger and bigger.

  • Singles’ Day started at Nanjing University in 1993 and was started as a way for those without a romantic partner to have their own day to celebrate.

  • November 11th was chosen as the date for the event because, written numerically (11/11), the digits look like ‘bare branches’, a Chinese expression for singles.

  • In 2009, e-commerce platform Alibaba started using the date for its annual online sale.

  • Sales on the day have grown from US$5.8 billion in Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) in 2013 to more than US$25.4 billion GMV in 2017.

  • This makes it the largest one-day (24 hour) sale by volume, globally – and those figures are just for the Alibaba-owned sites Tmall and Taobao.

  • Alibaba alone sells more than twice as much as is sold online in the US over the 5-day Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend (which drew US$10 billion in GMV in 2017).

  •, a Tencent competitor to Alibaba in China, has its own Singles’ Day event lasting 11 days (1st to 11th), which netted an additional US$19 billion in sales in 2017.

It’s just ridiculous how many products are sold on this single day!  Like nothing most people have ever seen!  Think of ANY western shopping holiday, go for it, Christmas?  Cyber Monday?  Black Friday?  Whatever you can think of, Singles’ Day beats it in terms of sales volume and value and has become the world’s largest e-commerce holiday.  Look at the charts –

In 2012, just 3 years after its inception it had already surpassed the then world’s largest online shopping day – Cyber Monday!  Just 3 years later!!  Damn, that’s fast!

alibaba-singles-dayLast year (2017) $25 billion dollars of goods were sold on Alibaba and its stores including Taobao.  For comparison, back in 2009, Alibaba grossed around $7 million on its inaugural Singles’ Day.

It’s not an easy job getting all this stuff out to the buyers!  That’s why so many couriers are needed!  I can’t imagine the stress at this time of year!

I wanted to bash Singles’ Day as being just another holiday hijacked by the corporate capitalist machine – but then I realised that the day was actually created by Jack Ma (马云) the businessman behind some of China’s biggest companies, such as Alibaba, Taobao and Youku.  So it looks like it was always just a scheme to get people to buy stuff!

The date 11.11 was chosen because the number one looks like a stick, a lonely stick, so the date with the most lonely 1s was chosen.  This holiday is thought to take away the negativity and the stigma that goes with being single especially for young people.  The day, although intended for single people, has evolved into a national and soon to be global spending frenzy!  Everywhere selling everything has special discounts for this day.  ANYTHING from clothes, to plates, to cars, to plastic surgery has a deal for this special day.  In terms of discounts, it could be compared to January sales because for many items it’s first come first served.  Maybe the first 100 items have the discount and then the rest don’t, or just there is genuinely a limited stock because of the volume of people wanting to buy at the same time.  If Apple had any sense, the iPhone would have been shipped at the same time!  They’d rack up about 30% more sales even if it wasn’t discounted!

As this day was just coming into form when I arrived in China in 2011, I am not sure how well it’s observed overseas.  I haven’t heard any of my friends talking about it and I don’t ever see commercials online when I visit websites outside of China.  Do people in any other countries also celebrate this day?  Let me know!

So, do you think you’ll join in this year?  I’m not sure which places are taking part in this overseas, but in China I tend to only use Jing Dong and Taobao.  Jing Dong is comparable to Amazon and Taobao is comparable to eBay.  Are you outside of China?  Do you know of anywhere actively taking part in Singles’ Day?  Let me know in the comments section!

UPDATE: $30.8 billion of sales in one day!!  If only it was all being sent to my bank account haha!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.