Singles' Day - A Global Shopping Event

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Debbie Bissell and Jed Brookes-Lewis talk us through the ins and outs of this global shopping event.

While Western audiences will be familiar with the traditional sales peaks of Christmas, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as soon as you mention Singles’ Day to them, and you may be met with a puzzled look.

In China it is a totally different story, and with total sales revenues dwarfing those previously mentioned days, it’s becoming more and more important for international retailers to be aware of.


Singles’ Day began in the early nineties as a way for Chinese students to embrace their singleness. Originally purely celebrated by men, it soon gained popularity with both sexes and grew on a yearly basis.

Falling on the 11th November (11.11 to really hammer home the singles aspect of it), it is now a day for people to treat themselves to that gift that they’ve been after for ages.



Originally quite a small festival, with single people taking the opportunity to go to the cinema, karaoke bars or just hang out without feeling the need for a partner, Singles’ Day really took off when, in 2009, Chinese shopping behemoth Alibaba decided to turn the day into an online retail extravaganza, having seen the successes of Black Friday in the USA.

Now you can save on almost anything, from electronics to beauty treatments.

The numbers behind Singles’ Day are truly astonishing. Last year alone, Alibaba saw sales of $17.8 billion; bigger than Black Friday, Christmas and even the total annual e-commerce sales of Brazil!

Predictions are that this will be even bigger in 2017.

Moving Forwards

Having seen how Black Friday grew from a traditionally US-centric event to an international festival of shopping, it should be expected that a similar thing will happen in the coming years for Singles’ Day, especially with China’s continued growth as an economic power.

It will, therefore, be key to start planning early and building awareness with users who may be unfamiliar with the Singles’ Day concept.

In China today ecommerce retailers offer discounts on 11.11 with the message to treat yourself, you don’t have to be in a relationship to be spoiled.

Still not convinced that this will overtake Black Friday? According to Forbes it is now the most significant online shopping day in China and the biggest shopping holiday globally.

Single or not, this is an event to keep an eye on. If all else fails, work it into your marketing plan and then go out and treat yourself!


If you want to find out more about global shopping trends and how they could impact your e-commerce business, get in touch with our Digital Paid Media experts today.

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