Alibaba Singles’ Day Sales Hit Record $38 Billion in China

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Alibaba Singles' Day Sales Hit Record $38 Billion in China

Photo Credit: Noel Celis/ AFP

China’s “Double 11” day makes America’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday look tame in comparison. In the first 68 seconds of November 11, Chinese consumers had spent a billion dollars snapping up bargains online. Within the first hour, they’d spent $14.3 billion (roughly Rs. 1 lakh crores) – about half the total recorded last year during the Thanksgiving shopping season in the United States. Even though the Chinese economy is flagging – or perhaps because it’s flagging – consumers are even more eager for bargains on China’s most frenzied shopping day of the year.

“There were so many discounts available that it makes me feel that I have to buy something, or I would be missing out big time,” said Zhang Hui, 31, an employee at a public relations firm here who snapped up a pair of boots and an overcoat on Taobao, for a total of $142 (roughly Rs. 10,000).

November 11 has long been celebrated in Asia as “singles’ day” – because the 11/11 date looks like four singles – and has been commandeered in Japan and South Korea by Pocky and Peppero respectively, the makers of chocolate sticks that look like ones. It is marketed as a kind of anti-Valentine’s Day, when singles can spend on themselves.

The day began to be marked in China in the 1990s, when university students celebrated being single on the day, known here as “Double 11.”