It may not have a lot of meaning to those of us living in the western world, but Singles Day is a big deal in China and is often thought of as their version of Black Friday. Taking place on the 11th of November, it’s been revealed that this year’s shopping spree generated $5 billion for e-commerce giant Alibaba in the first 90 minutes of Singles Day going live – the same amount that Americans spent online last year on Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.
Singles Day – which is called Double Eleven by most of China in reference to the date on which it falls – was reputedly started by singleton students in 1993. The idea behind this anti-valentine event is that if you’re single, you’ll likely have no commitments (in terms of a partner or kids) and therefore should celebrate the single life by, amongst other things, buying stuff you want. It has since become the largest online shopping day in the world.
Despite the ongoing concerns over the state of China’s economy, Alibaba’s total Singles Day sales for 2015 are expected to exceed last year’s $9.3 billion and reach $13.7 billion, according to IDC data cited by Bloomberg.
Alibaba claims that 74 percent of the $5 billion spent on these initial sales went on cell phones, showing just how much that market is growing in China. In an Interview withFortune magazine, Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said this year’s Double Eleven online shopping event will be the most international yet. “Chinese consumers will be buying an unprecedented assortment of international brands and products from around the world. Chinese consumers associate quality and prestige with American and European brands, and both have very solid presence on 11/11 in response to strong consumer demand.”