Singles Day – the biggest 24-hour online shopping event in the calendar


Singles’ Day started as an obscure “Anti-Valentine’s” celebration for single Chinese people in the 90’s. The date, 11/11, was chosen because the number “1” resembles an individual who is alone. It has since become the biggest 24-hour online shopping event in the calendar; a multi-billion pound event…

Singles’ Day outsells Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. You won’t be surprised to hear that this event has now been adopted by British firms, and is starting to take off in the UK. Is this something that MI retailers should have on their radar for 2020?

Here’s a timeline which shows how the online shopping bonanza has grown:

  • Singles’ Day supposedly started in 1993, when students at Nanjing University threw parties and bought themselves presents to celebrate their single status.
  • Alibaba, China’s – and by some measures, the world’s – biggest online commerce company, spotted the commercial opportunity in Singles’ Day back in 2009 and began launching “Double 11” deals just as online shopping was starting to explode.
  • In that first year consumers spent 50 million yuan (about £5m) and 27 merchants offered discounts
  • By 2011 – which was dubbed the Singles’ Day of the Century because it was 11.11.11 – more than £500m was spent across Alibaba’s platform during the day.
  • When sales almost quadrupled the following year, Alibaba trademarked Singles’ Day.
  • This year, at the end of the event, gross merchandise value stood at 268.4 billion yuan, just under a 26% rise from 2018’s figure. In dollar terms, the GMV figure was around $38.3 billion.

2019 saw companies such as Amazon, ASOS, Superdrug, New Look, Nike, Boohoo, Jo Malone and more offer substantial discounts to their UK customers.

Definitely one to think about!