“Singles’ Day” may sound lonely, but those who took part in the world’sfound togetherness in spending over $100 billion during the event, according to Alibaba.
The final sales figure blew away last year’s $38.4 billion over 24 hours, after Alibaba extended its sales period this year for the first time as it sought to help boost sales for merchants affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The annual Singles Day shopping festival, the world’s largest of its kind, offers shoppers discounts on a variety of products, from fresh produce to luxury items. Merchants ranging from small online stores to international brands such as Apple, Nike and L’Oreal, participate in the festival by slashing prices on their products.
Also participating in the festival are A-list celebrities, singers and sports stars from around the world who take part in online promotional events and performances on Chinese TV networks throughout the festival. This year’s headliner was Katy Perry, who gave a livestream performance on Tuesday.
Past Singles’ Day performers include Taylor Swift, Mariah Carey and Pharrell Williams, along with celebrities Nicole Kidman, Kobe Bryant, David Beckham and Scarlett Johansson.
Barometer for consumption
The annual shopping festival is closely watched as a barometer for consumption in China. What’s morphed into an astounding revenue-generating enterprise started out among Chinese university students holding parties to celebrate being single in 1993, only to be co-opted by Alibaba 16 years later in 2009.
The China-based retailing giant marked down merchandise in a marketing campaign that had other e-commerce companies soon doing the same. A decade later, the shopping bonanza has become the world’s largest, regularly dwarfing Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in the U.S., and giving Amazon Prime Day a run for its money.
“We looked at Black Friday in the U.S. and said, ‘Why don’t we have our own Black Friday in China?'” said Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang in a statement on its website. “November is a good time of year for a sale, but there are no good Chinese festivals in November. So we found a little-known day, on November 11th known as ‘Singles’ Day.'”
Singles’ Day falls on November 11, which when written numerically as 11.11 resembles “bare branches,” a Chinese expression for the single and unattached.