Chinese shoppers celebrated this Saturday the Double Eleven festival, a shopping holiday a la Black Friday in the west to commemorate Singles Days. Alibaba, the online retail giant, introduced the new sales spree event in 2009, and this year it made $25.3 billion in the 24 hours the holiday lasted.
The announcement was made after JD.com reported earnings of $19.1 million following almost a week of offers made online. Chinese consumers were not the only ones that enjoyed the record low prices in most products: Australian shoppers joined in the Singles Day frenzy as well, according to reports.
Opportunities like these are rare in the east, and they show how globalization has the capacity to influence even the most traditional cultures. Meanwhile, shoppers in the U.S. and Canada get ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday as Thanksgiving nears the calendar.
New record! China's e-commerce giant Alibaba reports $25.3 bln of sales on Singles' Day pic.twitter.com/jl4U8p2K0q
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) November 12, 2017
Singles Day by the numbers
There were two clear winners once the shopping spree ended at midnight this Sunday: JD.com and Alibaba. TMall, one of Alibaba’s biggest online retail portals, cleared on products on sale in just minutes, according to local news sources.
JD.com celebrated 11/11 with 11 days worth of deals leading up to the date, and it managed to up their sales by 50 percent in contrast to last year’s numbers. Over this period, they sold just over ¥127 billion in products, which amounts to a bit more than $19 billion.
Alibaba, on the other hand, unleashed their best offers only on Saturday and registered a record $25.35 billion in earnings, up 39 percent from last year. These current numbers alone exceed the profits from Cyber Monday and Black Friday in America with ease.
What are the origins of Singles Day?
Chinese people celebrate Singles Day as an opposite holiday to Valentine’s Day since the 1990s. College students in the Nanjing region started this tradition, and it progressively caught on across mainland China thanks to the spread of the idea via the Internet.
Originally, it was meant as an excuse to commemorate the fact of being single and find an excuse to party with other single people, perhaps even with the intention to find a couple. It is celebrated on November 11 because the numerical date 11/11 resembles form four sticks together, which resemble the Chinese term for bachelor.
It was not until 2009 that Alibaba added a commercial element to the mix and, much like the opposite Valentine’s Day, it was met with great success. It has turned so popular that it has derived into a modern tech phenomenon, with live shows, streaming sessions, and incessant online shopping made mostly on mobile devices.