World’s Largest Online Retail Shopping Event – China’s 11/11 Singles Day


Once again the world’s biggest shopping event has occurred. And, no, it’s not Black Friday and Cyber Monday. By far the biggest shopping day of the year was on November 11 (Singles Day) in China. The holiday originally began in 1993 as a celebration for people who are single, chosen because of the connection between singles and the number ‘1’. November 11 now serves as an occasion for single people to party – and shop.

The goals were lofty; last year sales exceeded $14 billion. This year, sales reached more than $1 billion in the first five minutes! By the end of 15 hours sales totaled $13.4 billion, and by the end of the day the tally was more than $17 billion! Even more impressive though is that a whopping 82% of sales were completed from mobile devices.

Singles Day has become an event on its own, including celebrities, fashion shows, TV galas, virtual reality, and augmented reality shopping. Estimates are that there will be more than 1 billion packages shipped using 207 million couriers. It’s not limited to Chinese companies. This year, more than 11,000 brands will participate in the deals.

Why is it so important for global brands to enter this shopping day? Consider that there are roughly 300 million middle-class shoppers in China, rising to an estimated 500 million in the next 10-15 years. While Singles Day may have originally started for lonely Chinese consumers, the shopping day now is seen as critical to driving China’s – and the worlds – economy.

If you are not familiar with Singles Day, there are many Web sources with information about the event and Alibaba, including the following:

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Most students will not have previously heard of China’s Single Day. Discuss the shopping holiday and its importance in China.
  2. This is likely the first time students have heard about Singles Day. There are a number of videos that can help explain the event:
    1. What is 11/11?
    2. Singles Day:
    3. An American at Alibaba:
    4. News reports:
  1. Discuss how this holiday compares to Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the U.S.
  2. How should U.S.-based companies participate in Singles Day?

Source:, Retail Dive, Reuters, other news sources


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