Singles’ Day spree on track for new record
CHINESE consumers splurged $12bn in the first two hours of Singles’ Day, the world’s biggest shopping event, with firms across the world doing their best to cash in.
Singles’ Day started as an obscure “anti-valentine’s” celebration for single people in China in the Nineties, but it has become the world’s biggest online shopping day after Jack Ma, billionaire owner of shopping giant Alibaba, spotted an opportunity. In China, November 11 is known as “bare sticks holiday” because of how it looks numerically (11.11) and has become a way for people to celebrate singledom.
Alibaba began launching “Double 11” deals in 2009 just as online shopping began to explode and trademarked the term Singles’ Day by 2012.
Since then it has become a huge global event, complete with a Super Bowl-type gala and celebrity guests. This year Alibaba has called on singer Jessie J and actress Nicole Kidman to provide glamour and the Blue Man Group performers for entertainment at the Shanghai-based event.
Last year, Chinese shoppers spent $17.8bn in 24 hours, with $1bn splashed in the first hour. Singles Day dwarfs other retail spending and was triple the $5.9bn spent by US shoppers across Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Thanksgiving last year.
“By 2020, China’s e-commerce market is set to be larger than those of the US, Japan, Germany, the UK and France combined”, said Nick Landon, managing director of Royal Mail Parcels. Around 60,000 international brands are due to take part this year. British grocer Waitrose expects sales of its goods, including English wine and biscuits and tea, which are available on Alibaba’s Tmall, to quadruple.
“It’s difficult to ignore the importance of the Chinese market, particularly e-commerce, as demand for high quality, British products continues to grow rapidly,” said Daniel Armstrong, Waitrose business manager. “Our sales in China are already up almost 75pc on last year.”
The Blue Man Group were among the performers at Shangai’s Mercedes-benz Arena at the launch of China’s premier shopping event