Singles’ Day Sales in China 11/11 – Spend, Spend, Spend
China has a bunch of national holidays but you’d be not be alone if you did a double take when seeing the (unofficial) holiday called Singles’ Day in China!
Singles’ Day may not be a formal national holiday where you get a day off work, but Singles’ Day sales are are the biggest in the world. It’s the Chinese equivalent of Black Friday.
It’s definitely a commercialised holiday (no way around that), and companies make billions, people spend billions, and people save billions. Think of it as Black Friday but much, much bigger.
What is Singles’ Day?
As the name suggests, Singles’ Day was originally a day dedicated to single men and women.
However, it has been completely taken over by Chinese market giants Alibaba as China’s version of Black Friday.
Alibaba took it into their own hands to market this date and managed to turn it into now the biggest online retail day in the world.
Singles’ Day in Chinese was originally known as 光棍节 (Guānggùn jié), but it is more commonly known as 双十一 (Shuāng shíyī) or 双11, which literally means “Double 11”.
In 2020, Singles’ Day is taking place on a Wednesday.
Interestingly enough, November 11th is also a popular day to get married, with over 4,000 couples reportedly getting married on this date in 2011 (11/11/11).
Where Does Singles’ Day Come From?
The story goes: a few Nanjing University students in 1993 wanted to celebrate being single.
They chose 11/11 to celebrate this day since two 1s together resemble two sticks standing alone.
They planned to spend this day celebrating with karaoke and eating youtiao (a common Chinese food that’s a deep fried bread stick, resembling a 1).
Originally a day to rebel against Valentine’s Day, it has now become something quite different.
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Singles’ Day and Alibaba
In 2009, Alibaba was looking for a new market and a way to boost commercial sales in Chinese markets.
November 11th comes at a time where there is a significant market dip between two big Chinese holidays, Chinese New Year and Chinese National Day.
With the timing perfect and an easy name to remember, Alibaba stepped in and took it as their own.
The term “Double 11” is now a copyrighted term by Alibaba.
But Alibaba doesn’t want to stop in China. It plans to take its marketing campaign to many other countries, and it has already taken off in some places such as the Philippines.
Just like Christmas and any other holiday, it’s not just 24 hours anymore.
Companies online entice people in days before with attractive offers suggesting that they beat the rush and the stress on the actual day. You’ll hear about 11/11 days before the “holiday” itself.
Online retail holidays are common, but what’s uncommon about Singles’ Day is the sheer size of it.
What are the Numbers?
Chinese markets boom for Singles’ Day every year. The numbers above are from 2017, and its only increased since then!
And the number gets bigger as you go on!
In 2019, 268.4 billion RMB was spent, just under a 26% rise from the figure posted in 2018. That’s just over 38 billion USD, by the way.
In fact, Chinese Singles’ Day is now 4 times bigger than Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the US.
It is now the biggest retail event in the world, hardly surprising given the numbers.
In 2019, Singles Day generated over 10 billion RMB in 1 minute, 36 seconds. This is approximately 145,137,900 USD (109,977,355 Pounds) in about a minute and a half. Let that sink in.
However, it’s not all fun and games. This speedy online shopping event causes both logistic and environmental problems, seen in issues such as the sudden great need for delivery drivers to dish out all of the bargains from different Chinese companies.
Greenpeace called it a “catastrophe for the environment”. The event reportedly produced over 258,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in 2016.
What Should I Do This Singles’ Day?
If you want to take part in the madness this year, make sure you’ve download yourself some must-have Chinese apps to do your shopping on.
This includes the popular Chinese version of Amazon: Taobao (淘宝网).
Living as an expat in China, Taobao is probably firmly routed into your vocabulary.
It’s cheap, quick, convenient and has everything your heart would desire this Singles’ Day. The only annoying thing is that you need an Alipay account.
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TIP – Jingdong may not have as much (crazy) stuff as Taobao, but its service usually delivers much quicker.
Singles’ Day in China – FAQ’s
When is Singles Day
Singles’ Day is China’s Black Friday and takes place on November 11th every year. In Chinese it is known as 双十一 (Shuāng shíyī), which literally means ‘double 11.’
What is Singles Day
As the name suggests, Singles’ Day is a day for single women and bachelors. However, it has been completely taken over by Chinese market giants Alibaba as China’s version of Black Friday.
Alibaba smartly jumped in and made it the biggest commercial day in the whole calendar year, growing year no year.
Is Singles’ Day the biggest day of shopping in China?
Yes, Singles’ Day involves huge amounts of online spending with consumers wanting to take advantage of some utterly huge discounts online.
Where can I get Singles’ Day discounts
You’ll need a Chinese app like Taobao or JD (Jingdong) but ultimately if you are in China, you’ll find things for 11/11 all over the place, especially in the bigger cities.
The best bargains will no doubt be found online though.
Why is it called Singles Day?
The story goes: some Nanjing University students in 1993 wanted to celebrate being single.
They chose 11/11 to celebrate this day since two 1s together resemble two sticks standing alone. Since then, it’s transformed into something much larger!
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