If you listen hard enough, you may just be able to hear the sound of billions of dollars entering retailers’ coffers as the internet goes bonkers s’over Single’s Day. The world’s single largest day of shopping rakes in more money than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined, and of course, takes place in the world’s most populous country — China. The nation’s most popular e-commerce giant, Alibaba, recorded more than $18 billion worth of sales after just 13 hours of shopping, blowing past the $17.8 billion record it set during the entire 24-hour period back in 2014. And by the end of the day, Alibaba managed to sell over $25 billion in products, a 40 percent increase over last year’s totals.
This figure only takes into consideration a single online retailer, which means that it’s likely that Chinese citizens spent significantly more across other e-commerce stores, including JD.com. In fact, that company, Alibaba’s biggest competitor, has now announced that it managed to sell $19.14 billion worth of products, which also beats Alibaba’s 2016 record. And while JD.com isn’t saying too much about its sales figures for Singles Day, it’s saying enough to remind folks that it is certainly a force to be reckoned with. Still, nowhere this year was the activity more furious than on Alibaba, where shoppers spent $1 billion in just 120 seconds.
So what exactly is Singles’ Day? As the name suggests, the unofficial (though apparently officially money-crazy) holiday celebrates folks who are without significant others. It always falls on November 11, which is to say 11/11 — symbolizing, you guessed it, a bunch of singles. But being by yourself is no reason not to treat yourself, and no one agrees more than Chinese shoppers, who have been taking advantage of discounts since Alibaba first decided to turn the day into a day of deals in 2009.
Given the massive appeal of the day, many international companies are now jumping on the Alibaba bandwagon in hopes of grabbing a slice of the $25 billion pie. As per an eMarketer Retail report, more than 40 percent of the participating brands actually come from outside of China. Similarly, while the day of excess began in China, it’s beginning to gain traction in other Asian nations as well. For example, Alibaba subsidiary Lazada is hosting its own Singles’ Day in the Philippines, as did Zalora in Singapore, and Shopee in Malaysia.
And despite the growing popularity of online shopping, both Alibaba and its homegrown rival JD.com are now attempting to take Singles’ Day to brick and mortar locations as well. For example, L’Oreal recently implemented an interactive mirror at its location in Shanghai, allowing folks to virtually don makeup products before ordering online.
In the meantime, those of us in the U.S. will just have to wait for Black Friday.
Update: JD.com, China’s second biggest e-commerce company, sold over $19 billion on 11/11.