Singles Day Is China’s Cyber Monday, but Bigger

Libby Kane
Posted

Have you heard of Singles Day?

It isn’t part of a tennis tournament, or preceded by “Kraft.”

This Chinese holiday was begun by college students in the 1990s as a sort of Valentine’s Day for single people, who would take each other out on November 11 (the date was chosen because it’s 11/11, or four singles) or give each other presents meant to entice each other out of singledom.

It’s the presents part of the equation that makes all the difference: Singles Day is the biggest online shopping day in China, and perhaps the biggest in the world. Yesterday, consumers spent $3 billion on e-commerce sites on Singles Day, which blows past the $1.25 billion American e-tailers earned on last year’s Cyber Monday. Retailers encourage the spending with drastic markdowns and sales, much like the American Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Keeping that in mind, it makes sense that China has both the world’s biggest population of internet users as well as the world’s biggest population of online shoppers. Some of Singles Day’s success is credited to the facts that those who adopt the holiday are university graduates with more disposable income, that it occurs right around the time people need to buy winter clothes and that unlike other major holidays, it doesn’t involve feasting or travel and leaves more money for gifts.

Americans obviously don’t have a Singles Day of our own (we hear the discounts can run up to 70% off!), but it isn’t too early to start planning your holiday budget, keeping in mind the best (and worst) ways to finance your festivities.