Single’s Day is a new “holiday” started by students at a Chinese University in 1993. It’s held every November 11th and while it was originally meant to be an alternative to loved-up Valentine’s Day, now it is the Chinese retail juggernaut event of the year like Black Friday in the States.
How Did Single’s Day Start?
A few single males at Nanjing University were lamenting the heavy focus on couples and wanted a day for themselves to celebrate the joys of being single. In 1993, the group started Single’s Day or Bachelor’s Day and it quickly spread first to other Chinese university dorms (where couple culture) was pervasive, then to the broader public.
The date that was chosen for Single’s Day was the eleventh day of the eleventh month, 11-11 as each of the numbers in the date is a single, and it is, of course, the maximum number of “singles” possible. While plenty of this information is available on Wikipedia, I also found a great chapter about it in a book I just finished on Audible, Young China.
Why Is It Now A Retail-Holiday?
The US has a unique advantage in the run-up to the end-of-year holiday sales that the rest of the world does not. Because Thanksgiving falls a reasonable four weeks prior to Christmas and Channukah, there is a natural start on the holiday sales period and end of year movement from the red to the black (unprofitable to profitable) for the year.
When we lived in the UK, retailers tried to focus sales on the same day as their American counterparts, Black Friday. Initially, it was a dud, sales were uninspiring. More recently, the UK has made Black Friday an event. Most consumers want to see deals so good that Americans will show their ugliest behavior to achieve them.
Jack Ma of Alibaba in 2009 seized on the perfectly timed Single’s Day to serve the same purpose for China and East Asia. It fills that vacancy well as singles, couples, parents, even grandparents participate in some of the best deals of the year.
Here are some of the biggest sites that participate:
How Big Is It?
Think of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, combine them together, narrow the websites to just a few, and then multiply the madness several times over. That would be the first hour of Single’s Day on Alibaba alone.
In 2017, for example, Alibaba had surpassed the previous single-day sales record of $25bn by 1:09 pm – just a year later, their record was set by the end of lunch. Last year, the US sold $6.59bn on Cyber Monday, a nearly 17% increase from the prior year which was the largest ever to-date. This year, Alibaba cleared $1bn in sales in the first 85 seconds – by themselves.
You have a chance to make it bigger, the deals extend beyond 11-11 in China (which is nearly over by the time of publication). Enjoy the next few days of discounts and deals on the aforementioned retailers.
Have you heard of Single’s Day before? Did you take advantage of any of the deals? Are there any other retail holidays around the world you may know of?