Online sales tend to make a big jump around this time of year, with the Monday after Thanksgiving (also known as “Cyber Monday”) often registering more transactions than most of the rest of the year combined. But this is in North America. Obviously, we have not even reached Turkey Day yet, but sales in the online marketplace Alibaba had already surpassed $14 billion within the first two hours of China’s annual online buying flurry. Once again, this frenzy of activity has broken records—crossing the $30 billion thresholds by the end of the day—as the country goes into its 10thyear with this consumer tradition, known as Singles Day.
Yes, Singles Day is, essentially, China’s version of Cyber Monday. On this day, online consumers in China clamor for discounts and deals alike from Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba. You could say that Alibaba is basically the Chinese Amazon. The day has become something like a holiday, particularly among those who do not romantic partners.
Actually, “Singles Day” started in the 1990s as a lampoon event to celebrate “unattached” Chinese university students. In Chinese, the day translates more closely to “Double 11,” because of the date: 11/11. While it may have started out as an improvised holiday, e-retailers have managed to co-opt the concept to offer drastic discounts and surprising deals online.
Alibab.com and e-commerce competitor JD.com are among the biggest participants in Singles Day. Some traditional brick-and-mortar stores have also started to participate.
The massive online spending binge is a welcomed break for the country with the world’s second largest economy. China has been struggling due to a combination of the tariff war with the United States, a slumping stock market, and a slowdown in growth.
In addition, many Chinese e-commerce platforms have been scrutinized in the past, mostly in regards to peddling low-quality and sometimes even counterfeit items. After all, Singles Day does appear to encourage online shoppers to focus more on low prices than excellent quality. Of course, if you are in North America and have ever bought something online (through e-Bay or Amazon, for example) at an unbelievably low price, it probably came from China and was likely a cheap rip-off of what you really wanted.