Online sales explode on China's anti-Valentine's day

The Chinese have been celebrating Single's Day - the biggest day for online shopping in the world.

by Gabriella Griffith
Last Updated: 11 Nov 2014

We may have been walking around with red poppies on our lapels for Remembrance Day here in the UK but the Chinese have been enjoying a different day all together – 11 November is Single’s Day in China and it’s serious business for online retailers.
 
Single’s Day started back in the 1990s as the antithesis of Valentine’s Day. It was designed to be a day when single people celebrate their freedom but it has grown into a day when they celebrate their purchase power instead – forget Cyber Monday in the US, Single’s Day is the biggest day for online shopping the world over.
 
Retailers in China get involved in Single’s Day by offering huge discounts. It is believed the trend started when Alibaba launched a huge sale on 11 November 2009 – other online retailers have since followed suit.  Shoppers reportedly sit by their computers, fingers poised over the buy button as the clocks turn to midnight on 10 November each year.
 
Today, Taobao – the biggest shopping platform in China and part of the Alibaba Group boasted, ‘two million bras sold in one hour, making a pile that would be three times higher than Mount Everest,’ according to the BBC. It apparently saw revenues top 10 billion yuan by 6am this morning, with more than 100 million customers frantically buying on the site by then. Excited journos reportedly gathered in Taobao’s HQ to watch giant screens depicting the impressive sales figures.
 
‘It is destined to be a nationwide online retail frenzy,’ said Zhang Yong, chief operating officer of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, operator of Taobao.com and Tmall.com.
 
‘Chinese customers have no lack of spending power, but just need an ignitor. Singles Day released both customers' desire and the sales channels. Alibaba provided the kindling in igniting the mass effect and appeal of e-commerce.’
 
It’s estimated shoppers spend an average of $300 each on Single’s Day – which outperforms America’s Cyber Monday significantly. By lunchtime in China, consumers had already beaten the world record for ecommerce sales in one single day - Alibaba alone had taken $3.1bn by lunch.
 
Apparently, Chinese premier Li Keqiang personally praised Alibaba founder Jack Ma, for creating (in Ma’s words) a ‘Chinese customer day.’
 
Encouraging the unlucky in love to comfort themselves with retail therapy? Goodness, and we say St Valentine’s Day is commercial…

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