Singles' Day

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Singles' Day
Singles' day illustration.png
An illustration for the Chinese e-commerce holiday Singles' Day
Observed byChinese
SignificanceBiggest shopping day in the world
CelebrationsShopping, festivals, clubs/bar
DateNovember 11
Next time11 November 2020 (2020-11-11)
Singles' Day
Simplified Chinese光棍节
Literal meaningSingles' Holiday

The Singles' Day (Chinese: 光棍节) or Double 11 (Chinese: 双11), is a Chinese unofficial holiday and shopping season that celebrates bachelors, and single people in general. The date, November 11 (11/11), was chosen because the number "1" resembles a "bare stick" (Chinese: 光棍; pinyin: guānggùn), which is a Chinese Internet slang for a single man who doesn't marry and thus can't add 'branches' to the family tree.[1] The four "1"s also abstractly refer to the demographic group of single people. The holiday has ironically also become a popular date to celebrate relationships (as to "pair up singles"), with over 4,000 couples being married in Beijing on this date in 2011, far greater than the daily average of 700 marriages.

The holiday has become the largest physical retail and online shopping day in the world. Alibaba shoppers exceeded 213.5 billion yuan (USD $30.7 billion) in total spend during 2018 Singles Day.[2][3] Rival hosts an eleven-day shopping festival as well, which garnered USD $19.1 billion, bringing the Chinese total to USD $44.5 billion total sales volume.[4] 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.[5]


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.[6] November 11 (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.[7] 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 November 11 would be a day of events and celebrations in honor of being single.[8] 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.


Alibaba sales on Singles' Day
Year USD (billions) RMB (billions) Growth
2018 31[9] 210[9] +27%
2017 25[10] 170[10] +39%
2016 18[11] 120[11] +32%
2015 14[12] 91[12] +60%
2014 9[13] 57[13] +63%
2013 6[citation needed] 35[citation needed] +83%
2012 3[14] 19[14] +270%
2011 0.8[15] 5[15] +460%
2010 0.1[15] 0.9[15] +1700%
2009 0.01[15] 0.05[16] 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.


The event is not an officially recognized public holiday in China,[7] although it has become the largest offline and online shopping day in the world.[3] 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. also achieved a sales record of US$19.1 billion in 2017, while Lazada drums up US$123 million.[17][18][19][20][21][22]

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 November 11, 2012.[23]

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.[24] The event is now nearly four times the size of America's biggest shopping days, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.[25]

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.[26] In 2011, an above-average number of marital celebrations occurred in Hong Kong and Beijing on November 11.[27]


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 (and more) different and separate 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.[28] The holiday has particularly grown in Southeast Asia, with customers in the Lazada's Southeast Asian marketplaces ordering 6.5 million items in 2017. This is in part thanks to heavy promotions by the Lazada group in this region.

In the United Kingdom, Single's Day, also called National Singles Day, is celebrated on March 11. 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'.[29]

Media Markt, a German company, promotes Singles' Day in their stores.[30] Belgian Mediamarkt also participates, but reactions have been negative since November 11 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.[31] In 2016, Swedish electronics retailer Elgiganten promoted a Singles Day campaign in Norway before implementing it in the other Nordic countries the following year.[32][33]


The term "双十一" (meaning "Double 11") was trademarked in China by Alibaba Group on December 28, 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.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Asian demography: The flight from marriage". The Economist. Seoul and Taipei. August 20, 2011. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  2. ^ Haas, Benjamin (November 12, 2017). "Chinese shoppers spend a record $25bn in Singles Day splurge". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  3. ^ a b C. Custer (October 14, 2014). "Tmall CEO: this year, Alibaba plans to take Singles Day global". Tech in Asia. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
  4. ^ "Singles Day 2017 Breaks Record with $44.5 Billion in Sales -". July 26, 2018. Retrieved September 15, 2018.
  5. ^ "Alibaba's Singles' Day sales hit record $38 billion; growth slows". Reuters. November 10, 2019. Retrieved March 5, 2020.
  6. ^ "How China's Singles' Day Holiday Sold Out". Times. Retrieved November 10, 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Singles' Day 2017". Public Holidays China. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  8. ^ Group, SEEC Media. "11 things you need to know about 11.11 Singles' Day shopping festival". Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  9. ^ a b "Alibaba Sets Singles' Day Record With $31 Billion in Sales". Bloomberg. November 11, 2018. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  10. ^ a b "Alibaba's Singles' Day Goes Global With Record $25 Billion in Sales". Bloomberg. November 12, 2017. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  11. ^ a b "Alibaba posts record Singles' Day sales, but growth slows". Reuters. November 11, 2016. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Alibaba's Singles' Day sales surge 60 percent to $14.3 billion". Reuters. November 12, 2015. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  13. ^ a b "Alibaba reports record $9 billion Singles' Day sales". Reuters. November 12, 2014. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  14. ^ a b "Tmall and Taobao See $3 Billion in Sales During China's 24-Hour Online Shopfest". Tech in Asia. November 12, 2012. Retrieved November 12, 2012.
  15. ^ a b c d e "Ten years of Singles' Day, China's ridiculously huge shopping festival". Quartz. November 9, 2018. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
  16. ^ ""双11"从小创意变成大节日 全球卖家从中受益". Xinhua. November 6, 2018. Retrieved November 6, 2018.
  17. ^ Charles Kauffman (November 14, 2017). "China's 11.11 volumes for Alibaba, continue to surge". aircargoworld. Retrieved November 15, 2017.
  18. ^ Steven Millward (November 12, 2014). "New record for world's biggest shopping day as Alibaba's shoppers spend $9.3 billion in 24 hours". Tech in Asia. Retrieved December 5, 2014.
  19. ^ "Alibaba's Singles' Day sales hit $14.32 billion". Reuters. Reuters. November 11, 2015. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  20. ^ "Big Data Game-Changer: Alibaba's Double 11 Event Raises the Bar for Online Sales". MIT Technology Review.
  21. ^ Horwitz, Josh. "Crazy statistics from China's biggest shopping day of the year". Quartz.
  22. ^ "Tech in Asia - Connecting Asia's startup ecosystem".
  23. ^ VB business, online mall Taobao reports $3B in sales in one day, Nov. 2012
  24. ^ "Jack Ma's Alibaba rakes in over $1bn per hour as Singles Day record smashed". RT International.
  25. ^ Haas, Benjamin (November 12, 2017). "Chinese shoppers spend a record $25bn in Singles Day splurge". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved November 30, 2017.
  26. ^ A holiday invasion – Why are Chinese enthusiastically adopting new festive events? Thinking Chinese, November 2011
  27. ^ Wall Street Journal (2011). Chinese Couples Rush to the Altar on 11/11/11. Retrieved November 16, 2011.
  28. ^ Saiidi, Uptin (November 13, 2017). "Singles Day is not just for China anymore". CNBC. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  29. ^ "New UK Dating Fair Brings Singles & Brands Together To Mark National Singles Day". January 10, 2017.
  30. ^ "Der Singles Day 2018". MediaMarkt Onlineshop. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  31. ^ jdb,sir. "Dit weekend vieren we een nieuwe feestdag, en die is vooral interessant voor koopjesjagers". Het Nieuwsblad (in Dutch). Retrieved November 9, 2017.
  32. ^ Malmberg, Joakim (November 8, 2017). "'Singles Day', the world's biggest shopping fest, is finally coming to the Nordics". Business Insider. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  33. ^ Chin, Josh (November 11, 2011). "Chinese Couples Rush to the Altar on 11/11/11". WSJ. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  34. ^ Eric Johnson (November 6, 2014). "The Chinese government has essentially given Alibaba the 'Double 11' market". InvestorPlace. Retrieved November 10, 2014.

External links[edit]