Today is November 11, or 11/11 (or, if you use the European date format, 11/11).  Today happens to be Veteran’s Day in the USA but in the world’s most populous nation it’s something different.

It’s the biggest shopping day of the year.  And it’s bigger than Prime Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday combined.

Today is Singles’ Day in China.  The sourcing I could find agrees somewhat that Singles’ Day started out of university dorms in Nanjing, where a group of four single men decided to celebrate their singleness on the most “lonesome” day of the year (four ones making up the date November 11) back in the early 1990s.  It caught on as an anti-Valentine’s Day of sorts and spread like wildfire over the years (sort of like people in America calling February 14 Singles Awareness Day because they’re single and drinking wine alone while watching Sleepless in Seattle on my couch).  Where does the shopping come in?  People would go out and buy gifts for themselves (because single).  E-commerce giant Alibaba started its annual Singles’ Day shopping special in 2009, and other retailers quickly jumped onto the bandwagon.

Why are you talking about a Chinese shopping holiday?

Well, this blog is read primarily by Americans and through rigorous testing and polling (I asked a buddy of mine at work if he had ever heard of it and he said he hadn’t) I figured most had never heard of this massive shopping day.  I’ve been to China a couple of times (most recently to climb the Great Wall of China as part of my epic Bluffworks Chino Review) and the technological fluency of the nation amazed me.  I guess it shouldn’t be that surprising, as China’s middle class numbers somewhere around 600 million (almost twice the population of the United States), but still.  The middle class in China has grown exponentially in just a few generations, with more shoppers than ever before.  I dunno, I just found it interesting.

Just how big is Singles’ Day?

Ok, let’s look at Prime Day.  Amazon’s big one-day sale (where I’ve bought such important life-saving items like a chef’s hat and a moscow mule copper mug) does $4-5 billion in business.  Americans spent about $15 billion between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  $20 billion isn’t bad, right?  This year, Alibaba announced $31 billion in sales for Singles Day at their annual Singles’ Day celebration after kicking off the day with a Taylor Swift concert in Shanghai.

Some big US brands are slowly coming around to the holiday, as they’ll use pretty much any excuse to put something on sale (“It’s Veteran’s Day, come buy a car!”), so I imagine Singles’ Day will eventually be as well-known in America as our other shopping holidays.


Anyway, just a little random food for thought for your Monday.


What are you looking to buy this holiday season?  What should go in my annual-ish Buying Guide for your Favorite Traveler?  Tell me in the comments below!

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