Fall is the season of golden leaves, pumpkin spice, crisp air and...sales! And the biggest sale of all takes place right here in China. You might be familiar with Black Friday, but do you know about its bigger, better Chinese counterpart?
Singles’ Day is China’s—and the world’s—largest shopping holiday. Called shuang shi yi (“double eleven”) in Chinese, Singles’ Day is right around the corner, on November 11.
Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant behind Taobao and Tmall (and therefore, Baopals), created the unofficial Singles’ Day shopping holiday in 2009. Singles’ Day is on November 11 because there are four 1s, representing being single, in the date 11/11. According to Facebook IQ, the social media platform’s research branch, “Alibaba picked November 11 so young singles in China can celebrate by treating themselves with gifts, sort of a remedy to Valentine’s Day.”
According to Business Insider, Singles’ Day 2018 generated over $4.68 billion in sales in the first 10 minutes of the day. In 20 minutes, sales had already exceeded Black Friday’s online sales, according to research firm Adobe Analytics. By the end of Singles’ Day 2018, $30.8 billion in sales were generated—a 21% increase from the previous year.
Singles’ Day also dwarfed the combined sales of Thanksgiving + Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which generated $9.9 billion and $7.9 billion in 2018, respectively.
The stunning growth of Singles’ Day is a testament to China’s massive population and newfound buying power. In 2018, Singles’ Day purchases resulted in 467 million parcels being delivered after 710 million payments were made, according to the Telegraph.
While Black Friday and Cyber Monday’s sales mainly happen in physical stores, Chinese consumers have a voracious appetite for online shopping. “The US has had store-based customer behavior for 60 to 70 years, but China has had only about 20 years to grow,” Jonathan Cheng, principal in Bain’s Consumer Products and Retail practices, said. Many Chinese people don’t have the habit of shopping in physical stores. Instead, China’s rapid adoption of smartphones and the Internet allowed for a boom in online spending.
This year, according to South China Morning Post, Alibaba is expecting an additional 100 million consumers to participate in Singles’ Day. The total number of shoppers is likely to top 500 million as China’s expanding middle class spends more on small purchases like clothes, cosmetics, and household items.
There are still two weeks left until November 11, but many people have already started filling up their shopping carts and thinking about what they’re going to buy. Better yet, 11.11 discounts are already available on Baopals! So what are you waiting for? Grab your (significant other's) wallet and shop till you drop before the sales even officially begin!