November 11, or ‘Double 11′, marks the date of China’s Singles’ Day, a non-official holiday that has become the country’s biggest online shopping day of the year, and as 1 billion USD was already spent within the first 50 minutes of the holiday alone today, it’s been estimated that consumers will spend an average of 1,800 yuan per person by nighttime. Ahh, the power of one single person.
According to a Tech in Asia report:
At Alibaba HQ, China’s top e-commerce company is watching its consumers spending in real-time in what I like to call its ‘big data’ war-room. Alibaba’s Tmall, its open marketplace for merchants, saw $177 million spent in the first six minutes. That leapt to $266 million (RMB 1.64 billion) after the first ten minutes, and then to very near $500 million (RMB $3.021 billion) at the 20-minute mark . (UPDATE: After the first 50 minutes, $1 billion has been spent).
The date of the holiday celebrating/hating singledom, 11.11, is meant to symbolize “bare branches”, a Chinese term for bachelors. The holiday is thought to have originated some 20 years ago at Nanjing University as a joke, but has by now resulted in an online retail frenzy similar to Cyber Monday in the US, according to Foreign Policy:
Amazon.cn declared that the site would sell “20,000 products discounted by as much as 90 percent.” That includes a wedding ring, which singles can presumeably buy, just in case. Jack Ma, founder of Internet giant Alibaba, told Chinese Premier Li Keqiang late last month that Alibaba’s sales on Singles’ Day 2012 were “nearly $3.3 billion” — more than double the roughly $1.5 billion purchased on Cyber Monday in 2012. For Singles’ Day 2013, Ma expects sales to exceed $4.9 billion.