China’s Single’s Day Breaks World Record with $5.7 Billion in Sales

Alibaba Group chairman Jack Ma
Alibaba Group Chairman Jack Ma

China’s largest shopping event 11.11, also known as Single’s Day, topped nearly $6 billion in sales, equating to an 83% increase over the 2012 event.

The origin of the shopping holiday varies depending on where you look. According to some, Single’s Day is a holiday for the unattached and can be viewed as the exact opposite of Valentine’s Day. Instead of splurging on candies, flowers, and romantic cards for a significant other, every year on Nov. 11 Chinese singles come out in droves to spend money on themselves.

However, some say Single’s Day began in 2009 as a way to boost consumer spending during the shopping gap between two major Chinese holidays: the National Holiday in October and the Lunar New Year.

No matter what the origin is, in the ecommerce world Single’s Day is now known as a record breaker. According to a press release from Alizila, a press organization representing the Chinese ecommerce platform Alibaba Group, as sales drew to a close at midnight; 171.4 million orders were placed on and Taobao Marketplace, Alibaba’s ecommerce sites, totaling $5.7 billion.

Single’s Day, according to the release, nearly tripled last year’s Cyber Monday sales which hit $1.98 billion, making Nov. 11 “the biggest one-day shopping event in the world.”

To gear up for the shopping event Alibaba Group supplied shoppers with free mobile data for the day, which resulted in 21% of all orders placed from mobile devices compared to the 5% placed in 2012.

The event was not just opened to Chinese shoppers, according to the release, overseas orders were also placed in the U.S., Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

While some retailers stay relatively steady throughout the year when it comes to product prices, there is a special exception during the Single’s Day shopping event. “For the whole year, we control the prices very strictly,” said Kevin Shih, chief executive of Jollywiz, the official distributer of the Naruko skincare brand, in the release.

“We view 11.11 from the lens of its ability to draw new customers and in that sense it has great value. Every year after 11.11, our customer base increases to a whole different level,” Shih said in the release.