Singles' Day

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Singles' Day
Singles' day illustration.png
An illustration for the Chinese e-commerce holiday Singles' Day
Observed byChinese
TypeCommercial
SignificanceBiggest shopping day in the world
CelebrationsShopping, festivals, clubs/bars
Date11 November
Next time11 November 2022 (2022-11-11)
FrequencyAnnual
Singles' Day
Simplified Chinese光棍节
Literal meaningSingles' Holiday

The Singles' Day (simplified Chinese: 光棍节; traditional Chinese: 光棍節) or Double 11 (Chinese: 双11), originally called Bachelors' Day, is a Chinese unofficial holiday and shopping season that celebrates people who are not in relationships. The date, 11 November (11/11), was chosen because the numeral 1 resembles a bare stick (Chinese: 光棍; pinyin: guānggùn), which is Chinese Internet slang for an unmarried man who does not add 'branches' to the family tree.[1] The four '1's also abstractly refer to the demographic group of single people. Paradoxically, the holiday has become a popular date on which to celebrate relationships: more than 4,000 couples got married in Beijing on this date in 2011, far greater than the daily average of 700 marriages.

Originally, the date was celebrated as a cynical response to traditional couple-centric festivals by a small group of college bachelors. However, in 2009 Alibaba's CEO Daniel Zhang began to use the day as a 24 hour shopping holiday festival that offered online shopping discounts and offline entertainment.[2][3][4] The holiday has now become the largest physical retail and online shopping day in the world. Rivals to Alibaba, such as JD.com hosts Singles' Day festival as well, which garnered USD $19.1 billion, bringing the Chinese total to USD $44.5 billion total sales volume in 2017.[5] Alibaba shoppers exceeded 213.5 billion yuan (USD $30.7 billion) in total spend during 2018 Singles Day.[6][7] In 2019, Alibaba said that its gross merchandise volume for the whole event came in at 268.4 billion yuan (USD $38.4 billion), an increase of 26% from the previous year.[8] In 2021, Alibaba and JD reached a new total Singles Day sales record of USD $139 billion.[9]

Origins[edit]

The Singles' Day, or Bachelors' Day, originated at Nanjing University in 1993. Singles' Day celebrations spread to several other universities in Nanjing during the 1990s.[10] 11 November (11/11), consisting of four 1's, was chosen as it represents four singles.

There are several ideas explaining the creation of the Singles' Day festival.[11] The most widely accepted idea is that the holiday grew out of Nanjing University's dorm culture. One origin story is that in 1993, four male students of Nanjing University's Mingcaowuzhu (all single men) dorm discussed how they could break away from the monotony of being single and agreed that 11 November would be a day of events and celebrations in honor of being single.[12] These activities spread through the university and eventually made their way into wider society. The spread increased with social media use, and the event has become increasingly popular within contemporary Chinese culture and society.

Description[edit]

JD sales on Singles' Day
Year RMB (billions) Growth
2021 349.1[13] +28.6%
2020 271.5[14]
2019 204.4[15]
2018 159.8[16]
2017 127.1[17]
Alibaba sales on Singles' Day
Year USD (billions) RMB (billions) Growth
2021 84.5[18] 540.3[18] +8.5%
2020 75[19] 498.2[19] +85%
2019 38.4[8] 268.4[20][8] +26%[8]
2018 31[21] 210[21] +27%
2017 25[22] 170[22] +39%
2016 18[23] 120[23] +32%
2015 14[24] 91[24] +60%
2014 9[25] 57[25] +63%
2013 6[citation needed] 35[citation needed] +83%
2012 3[26] 19[26] +270%
2011 0.8[27] 5[27] +460%
2010 0.1[27] 0.9[27] +1700%
2009 0.01[27] 0.05[28] Ø

Singles' Day serves as an occasion for single people to meet and for parties to be organized. The holiday was initially only celebrated by young men, hence the initial name Bachelors' Day. However, it is now widely celebrated by both sexes. Blind date parties are popular on this day, in an attempt to alter the single status of the participants. Some universities organize special programs to gather singles together for the celebration. Singles may take on an annoyed or self-deprecating attitude in response to remaining single as a university student, but university initiatives have helped curb that negativity.[citation needed] Although this date is meant to celebrate singlehood, the desire to find a spouse or partner is often expressed by young Chinese people on this date, while other love-related issues are discussed by the Chinese media.

Shopping[edit]

The event is not an officially recognized public holiday in China,[11] although it has become the largest offline and online shopping day in the world.[7] Sales in Alibaba's sites, Tmall and Taobao, have reached US$5.8 billion in 2013, US$9.3 billion in 2014, US$14.3 billion in 2015, US$17.8 billion in 2016, and over US$25.4 billion in 2017. JD.com also achieved a sales record of US$19.1 billion in 2017, while Lazada drums up US$123 million.[29][30][31][32][33][34]

As more people join in the celebration of this holiday, many companies have taken the opportunity to target younger consumers including businesses such as restaurants, karaoke parlors, and online shopping malls. For example, the Chinese online shopping mall Taobao sold goods worth 19 billion CNY (about US$3 billion) on 11 November 2012.[35]

On Singles' Day 2017, Alibaba set a world record for most payment transactions during the festival. Its mobile wallet app Alipay processed 256,000 payment transactions per second. A total of 1.48 billion transactions were processed by Alipay in the entire 24 hours, with delivery orders through Cainiao (Alibaba's logistics affiliate) reaching close to 700 million, breaking the previous record set in 2016.[citation needed] The event is now nearly four times the size of America's biggest shopping days, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.[36]

Cultural Events[edit]

Singles' day have come to also represent as a cultural event. Alibaba usually hosts large celebratory festivals on the night before its biggest shopping day and have featured global celebrities including Nicole Kidman in 2017, Taylor Swift at Alibaba's Shanghai gala in 2019, and Katy Perry performing in a livestream in 2020.[37] Not merely a shopping event but the holiday is also a day when people can party to socialize and meet other people, as well as practising traditions that celebrate the single life.[38]

2011 marked the Singles Day of the Century (Chinese pinyin: Shiji Guanggun Jie) as this date had six "ones" rather than four, increasing the significance of the occasion.[39] In 2011, an above-average number of marital celebrations occurred in Hong Kong and Beijing on 11 November.[40]

Symbolism[edit]

The following symbolism has been associated with the special date:

  • 1: the digit 1 symbolizes an individual, a single person.
  • 11: two individuals finding each other and being together on one side of the special date (11.11).
  • 2 x (11): a celebration of two or more couples, each comprising two single individuals finding each other on the special date (11.11).

Outside China[edit]

Singles' Day has since been popularized through the internet and is now observed at several places outside of China as well.[41] The holiday has particularly grown in Southeast Asia, with customers in the Lazada's Southeast Asian marketplaces ordering 6.5 million items in 2017. In Indonesia, for example, 11 November is dubbed "Harbolnas" (National Online Shopping Day), and large discounts are offered by major online retailers.[42] It previously took place on 12 December.[43]

In the United Kingdom, Single's Day, also called National Singles Day, is celebrated on 11 March. It was initiated by a group of internationally recognised dating experts in order to help singles either embrace their single status or 'do something about it'.[44]

MediaMarkt, a German company, promotes Singles' Day in their stores.[45] Belgian MediaMarkt also participates, but reactions have been negative, as 11 November is the anniversary of the Armistice of 11 November 1918 that ended World War I, and the day is associated with somber commemoration of the war dead in Belgium.[46] In 2016, Swedish electronics retailer Elgiganten promoted a Singles Day campaign in Norway before implementing it in the other Nordic countries the following year.[47][48]

Trademarks[edit]

The term "双十一" (Double 11) was trademarked in China by Alibaba Group on 28 December 2012, under registration numbers 10136470 and 10136420. On October 2014, Alibaba threatened legal action against media outlets that accept advertising from competitors that use this term.[49]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Asian demography: The flight from marriage". The Economist. Seoul and Taipei. 20 August 2011. Archived from the original on 14 September 2018. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
  2. ^ "Singles' Day posts a record haul even at the slowest pace in a decade". South China Morning Post. 12 November 2021. Retrieved 17 November 2021.
  3. ^ Huy, Quy (11 December 2019). "For Alibaba, Singles Day Is About More Than Huge Sales". Harvard Business Review. ISSN 0017-8012. Retrieved 17 November 2021.
  4. ^ "How Alibaba made Singles' Day the world's largest shopping festival". Fortune. Retrieved 17 November 2021.
  5. ^ "Singles Day 2017 Breaks Record with $44.5 Billion in Sales". SinglesDayBest.com. 26 July 2018. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  6. ^ Haas, Benjamin (12 November 2017). "Chinese shoppers spend a record $25bn in Singles Day splurge". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  7. ^ a b C. Custer (14 October 2014). "Tmall CEO: this year, Alibaba plans to take Singles Day global". Tech in Asia. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d "Alibaba's Singles' Day sales hit record $38 billion; growth slows". Reuters. 10 November 2019. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  9. ^ Kharpal, Arjun (12 November 2021). "Alibaba, JD smash Singles Day record with $139 billion of sales and focus on 'social responsibility'". CNBC. Retrieved 16 November 2021.
  10. ^ "How China's Singles' Day Holiday Sold Out". Times. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  11. ^ a b "Singles' Day 2017". Public Holidays China. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  12. ^ Group, SEEC Media. "11 things you need to know about 11.11 Singles' Day shopping festival". Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  13. ^ "Alibaba, JD.com shares rise as Singles Day comes to a close". 11 November 2021.
  14. ^ "双11落幕:天猫4982亿 京东2715亿 小米也是大赢家". 12 November 2020.
  15. ^ "一文读懂双11战报:京东累计下单超2044亿 阿里销售额达2684亿_腾讯新闻".
  16. ^ "2018双十一全网销售总成绩:3143.2亿_京东".
  17. ^ "【钛晨报】2017双11全网销售额达2539.7亿,手机销售额占比8.7%".
  18. ^ a b Emily Bary. "Alibaba, JD.com shares rise as Singles Day comes to a close". Market Watch. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  19. ^ a b Sherisse Pham. "Singles Day: Alibaba sales blitz rakes in $75 billion as Chinese shake off Covid-19". CNN. Retrieved 21 November 2020.
  20. ^ Kharpal, Arjun (11 November 2020). "Alibaba's $56 billion Singles Day record overshadowed by 10% stock plunge as China proposes new regulation". CNBC. Retrieved 21 November 2020.
  21. ^ a b "Alibaba Sets Singles' Day Record With $31 Billion in Sales". Bloomberg. 11 November 2018. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  22. ^ a b "Alibaba's Singles' Day Goes Global With Record $25 Billion in Sales". Bloomberg. 12 November 2017. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  23. ^ a b "Alibaba posts record Singles' Day sales, but growth slows". Reuters. 11 November 2016. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  24. ^ a b "Alibaba's Singles' Day sales surge 60 percent to $14.3 billion". Reuters. 12 November 2015. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  25. ^ a b "Alibaba reports record $9 billion Singles' Day sales". Reuters. 12 November 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  26. ^ a b "Tmall and Taobao See $3 Billion in Sales During China's 24-Hour Online Shopfest". Tech in Asia. 12 November 2012. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
  27. ^ a b c d e "Ten years of Singles' Day, China's ridiculously huge shopping festival". Quartz. 9 November 2018. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  28. ^ ""双11"从小创意变成大节日 全球卖家从中受益". Xinhua. 6 November 2018. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  29. ^ Charles Kauffman (14 November 2017). "China's 11.11 volumes for Alibaba, JD.com continue to surge". aircargoworld. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  30. ^ Steven Millward (12 November 2014). "New record for world's biggest shopping day as Alibaba's shoppers spend $9.3 billion in 24 hours". Tech in Asia. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
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  32. ^ "Big Data Game-Changer: Alibaba's Double 11 Event Raises the Bar for Online Sales". MIT Technology Review.
  33. ^ Horwitz, Josh. "Crazy statistics from China's biggest shopping day of the year". Quartz.
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  35. ^ VB business, online mall Taobao reports $3B in sales in one day, Nov. 2012
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  37. ^ Tan, Huileng. "Singles' Day kicks off on Thursday in China with a massive party. Here are 5 stats that put the scale of the world's biggest shopping festival into perspective". Business Insider. Retrieved 17 November 2021.
  38. ^ "Singles Day". Days Of The Year. Retrieved 17 November 2021.
  39. ^ A holiday invasion – Why are Chinese enthusiastically adopting new festive events? Thinking Chinese, November 2011
  40. ^ Wall Street Journal (2011). Chinese Couples Rush to the Altar on 11/11/11. Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  41. ^ Saiidi, Uptin (13 November 2017). "Singles Day is not just for China anymore". CNBC. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  42. ^ "Harbolnas 11.11, Ini Promo yang Ditawarkan Lazada, Shopee, dan Bukalapak". KOMPAS.com (in Indonesian). 11 November 2020. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  43. ^ "Apa Itu Harbolnas yang Digelar pada 12.12 Besok?". tirto.id (in Indonesian). 11 December 2019. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  44. ^ "New UK Dating Fair Brings Singles & Brands Together To Mark National Singles Day". 10 January 2017.
  45. ^ "Der Singles Day 2018". MediaMarkt Onlineshop. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  46. ^ jdb,sir. "Dit weekend vieren we een nieuwe feestdag, en die is vooral interessant voor koopjesjagers". Het Nieuwsblad (in Dutch). Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  47. ^ Malmberg, Joakim (8 November 2017). "'Singles Day', the world's biggest shopping fest, is finally coming to the Nordics". Business Insider. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  48. ^ Chin, Josh (11 November 2011). "Chinese Couples Rush to the Altar on 11/11/11". WSJ. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  49. ^ Eric Johnson (6 November 2014). "The Chinese government has essentially given Alibaba the 'Double 11' market". InvestorPlace. Retrieved 10 November 2014.

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