China’s "Singles Day" Is The World’s Hugest, Craziest Online Shopping Spree

How a jokey online holiday for bachelors became a mammoth doorbuster sale triple the size of Black Friday.


Chinese postal workers dealing with 323 million deliveries from doorbuster online sales on 11/11.

Online retail giant TMall celebrating their record sales.

When four Nanjing University students jokingly declared 11/11 a national singles day, they probably did not envision creating the biggest sales event in the world. It started in the 90s as a cheeky meme, a way for web-savvy Chinese people to mock their own singlehood and invite their other single friends to pamper themselves at bars, restaurants and karaoke lounges. They chose 11/11 because one is the loneliest number, etc. Then businesses began to take notice.

In 2009, online retail giant Alibaba co-opted the day and announced it would be selling everything half-off on By 2012, 11/11 “bare branches day” surpassed America’s Cyber Monday as the briskest shopping day on earth.

This year, Chinese online retail giant TMaill drew in a record-shattering $5.7 billion of sales within 24 hours (compared to $1.46 billion for America’s Cyber Monday in 2012). TechInAsia reports that 402 million visitors flocked to the site within a day.

4. Though the shopping spree is no longer only for singles, TMall still sold a lot of bachelor and bachelorette-themed merchandise:

“Singlehood is a table for one at a wonton shack.”

Low-calorie instant noodle marketed towards single urban women.

An “official” certificate of bachelor- and bachelorette-dom.

“For a homely person, looking in the mirror is like watching a horror story unfold.”

“You’re im-portant! Even your portliness makes me potent for you.”
Bad pun T-shirts seem to be a global affliction.

Stuffed arm-candy for those who live alone.

“Don’t let Single’s Day catch you alone! Let Fen’s Wines keep you company.”

TMall and Taobao even sell short-term bachelor pad rentals on their website. This one is located in Chengdu.

Or how about ordering a BMW online to really pamper yourself?

13. Ironically for a celebration started organically as an anti-Valentine’s, 11/11 Singles Day is seeing anti-commercial backlash.

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Comics Editor + Chinese-English Translator.
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