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Single’s Day (双十一 or 光棍节)

You might have heard of Single’s Day, the Chinese online shopping day that breaks sales records year after year. Just imagine: with $25.3 billion in 2017, Chinese consumers spent more in one day than consumers in the USA during the four-day period between Black Friday and Cyber Monday together.

Let’s have a look at what’s behind this day of shopping frenzy.

There are two stories connected with Single’s Day. The first story is about young people who, despite the pressure to find a spouse, could not or did not want to find one. Especially in campus life, the rising numbers of singles became an issue. Thus, in 1993, the first celebration of Singles’s Day, or 光棍节; Guānggùn Jié (literally: Single Sticks Day) took place at Nanjing University. The date, 11.11., was chosen because “1” represents a single, so with a maximum of “1” on 11.11., this day was set to celebrate singles. Single’s Day celebrations quickly spread to other universities in the 1990s and became popular especially with the internet savvy crowd.

The other story is about a huge commercial success and exponential growth curves. Probably building on the momentum of the existing “Single Sticks Day” and with a date conveniently placed between National Day and New Year, the B2C platform Tmall (天猫) launched the first Single’s Day sale in 2009. With 27 brands participating and total sales of about 50 million Yuan (at the time about $7.5 million), it was rather small scale, but still considered a success.

With every year since 2009, sales have increased considerably and successively other Alibaba e-commerce platforms such as Taobao and Alibaba adopted it. Since its humble beginnings, sales value has skyrocketed into the billions of dollars every year. With its commercial takeover, people also used the term “Single Sticks Day” less and less, and now it’s common to call the day “Double 11 festival” (双十一).

Outside of Mainland China, Single’s Day is becoming popular as well, especially in East and Southeast Asia, but slowly also in Europe and North America. Also in Switzerland, you will find several (online) shops that have special offers on 11.11.

If you like Chinese tea, then I invite you to check out my online shop Running a China-related online business, I could, of course, not skip this special day. Enjoy a 11% reduction on everything!

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