Today Is The Biggest Online Shopping Day Of The Year… In China

Image courtesy of (Alan Rappa)

While today might be Veterans Day or Remembrance Day in countries that took part in World War I, retailers in China want us to celebrate it as something else. There, November 11 is Singles Day, which started as an anti-Valentine’s Day of sorts, and has somehow evolved into the biggest online shopping day in the world.

See, November 11 is Singles Day because when you write out the date, it’s just a row of ones. They’re solitary numerals, standing in a row. It’s not clear how the celebration of singlehood became a shopping frenzy in China, unless the idea is for the uncoupled to attempt to fill the gaping hole in our souls with stuff. It doesn’t matter in the end, because online retailers simply use the holiday as an excuse to have massive discounts. Why not? It makes as much sense as Cyber Monday now does in a world where most people who shop online don’t have to wait until they get to work.

Last year, shoppers spent $5.7 billion on November 11, which was a record. Think of it as something like Cyber Monday, the supposed kickoff to the online Christmas shopping season. The Singles’ Day shopping frenzy is mostly promoted by Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, also known as “that place where I buy headphones for 75¢.”

Singles Day probably won’t catch on as a shopping holiday here. It might take a few more decades before Americans are comfortable with the idea of turning a holiday honoring military veterans into an e-commerce frenzy. One expert told Bloomberg Businessweek that the date falls at the wrong point in the business calendar in this country: it’s too close to the back-to-school shopping season on one end, and too close to Black Friday on the other. Besides, retailers have already started Black Friday deals.

UPDATE: Alibaba reports $9 billion in Singles Day sales. Gosh. That’s more business than American retailers are expected to do on Black Friday.

Why China’s Singles Day Won’t Become a American Shopping Holiday [Bloomberg Businesssweek]

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