China's biggest online retailers, including the recently floated Alibaba, are set for the biggest online shopping day in the world tomorrow.
Last year, Singles’ Day was responsible for $5.8bn (£3.6bn) worth of orders for Alibaba alone. This year that figure is expected to grow by 42 per cent to around $8.2bn, according to market research firm IDC.
Alibaba’s close rival JD.com last year reported $1.6bn in revenue generated from the one-day online extravaganza, compared with $1.5bn spent by US consumers last year during Cyber Monday.
Alibaba’s chairman Jack Ma last week said while he did not expect Alibaba’s order volume to surpass 200m packages: “I bet the number is going to be scary.”
WHAT IS SINGLES’ DAY IN CHINA?
Singles’ Day on 11 November is a Chinese celebration for people who are single to socialise and, increasingly, take part in online shopping. The date is chosen for the connection between singles and the number 1, which is represented as 11.11 in advertising around the day.
While the celebration dates back to 1993 when young people at Chinese universities held singles parties, in recent years online retailers – most notably Alibaba – have launched aggressive promotions, sales and marketing campaigns around the day. Singles’ Day is now recognised as the largest online shopping day in the world, dwarfing the sales volumes of Black Friday or Cyber Monday in the US.
While the chief executive of Alibaba subsidiary Tmall, Wang Yulei, last month wrote: “Starting from this year, future Singles’ Days will definitely not just be for consumers in a particular region, Singles’ Day will be for the whole world,” the celebration has yet to take off outside China. Despite this, the explosive growth of the country’s now 270m e-commerce shoppers continues to drive sales growth, and shows no sign of slowing this year.