By now we have all heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, online sales for a new contender from the East, Single’s Day, dwarf these numbers.
Single’s day was born in Nanjing University where the large number of single males on campus celebrated 11th November because it is all the ones: 11/11. In China it’s known as ‘bare sticks day’, a literal desciption of the numbers 11/11. Nanjing’s tudents continued the tradition once they had left university and spread it widely throughout Chinese society. The day really took off in 2011: 11/11/11!
The day became one in which single people would go on blind dates, or celebrate their ‘singleness’ by treating themselves to a gift. The growing trend of people buying themselves gifts didn’t escape the attention of Chinese retail giant Alibaba, who took hold of the day and promoted it widely.
Singles Day has now become an unofficial holiday in China, as hordes of shoppers, single people in particular, take to the streets to spend their money, go on blind dates and treat themselves to an online gift or two.
The retail giant Alibaba is carefully bringing its day of buying frenzy westward with its sights firmly set on the UK, one of the largest retail markets in the world. One of its retail divisions, Tmall, has already been teaming up with western brands and people are already familiar with AliExpress, which posts the occasional UK bargain.
In 2014 Single’s Day sold 278million items worldwide, generating $9.3billion – dwarfing Cyber Monday sales of $2.68bn and Black Friday, which made $1bn. By 2017 it had broken all records at $25.3bn. Its strategic position on the calendar, being so close to Christmas offers the day an opportunity to steal the thunder of days like Black Friday.