Singles’ Day falls on November 11 because it’s thought ‘1’ represents a single individual. It’s about celebrating peoples’ pride in being single by rewarding oneself with a present. It’s the biggest shopping day of the year in China.
Since 2009, Alibaba Group has run the ‘Global Shopping Festival’ on Singles’ Day as the world’s largest 24-hour online shopping event, with participating merchants in the tens of thousands, buyers in the millions, and total sales in the billions. It seems to be working - in 2015, Alibaba’s Singles’ Day event set a Guinness World Record for the highest online sales revenue generated by a single company in 24 hours, hitting $14.3 billion.
This sales record is more than double the combined $5.8 billion online sales of Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the US. Forbes has reported that sales are expected to top $20 billion this year.
Retailers typically offer deep discounts on Singles’ Day. The wild competition has led to less than savoury practices, leading China’s business regulator, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, to issue a warning. It told Fortune it had met with key players Alibaba, Amazon.com, Baidu and others to warn against dodgy practices like selling fakes, falsifying sales figures and engaging in other fraudulent practices.