Is that time of the year again! The largest online shopping event in China and in the world will be held on November 11, the day of singles.
But how did this event start and how has it evolved over the years?


There are several theories that explain the birth of Singles’ Day. The most accepted idea is that it is the fruit of the dormitory culture of the University of Nanjing. Legend has it that in 1993, four male students from Nanjing University’s Mingcaowuzhu dormitory (all single men) sought a way to break the monotony of being single by agreeing that November 11 would be a day of celebration in honor of the single.

This tradition took hold within the university and eventually made its way into society. Spread has increased with the use of social media and the event has become increasingly popular in contemporary Chinese culture and society. This is why 11.11 was originally called “Bachelors’ Day”.

The date, November 11 (11/11), was chosen because the number 1 resembles a stick (Chinese: 光棍; pinyin: guānggùn), which is Chinese Internet slang for an unmarried man who doesn’t add ” branches “to the tree family. The four “1s” also abstractly refer to the demographic of singles. 

Paradoxically, the party has become a popular date for celebrating relationships: more than 4,000 couples got married in Beijing on this date in 2011, far above the daily average of 700 weddings.

The shopping event

In 2009 Jack Ma decides to use this day and make it a day entirely dedicated to shopping.

The annual shopping event starts at midnight on November 11 and lasts for 24 hours with hefty discounts led by the main Alibaba-owned platform, Tmall, although by now almost all e-commerce platforms have joined this event. People are allowed to book their favorite products in the days leading up to the festival in order to have a wish list ready for 11.11. Basically, it’s the Asian version of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but bigger than the two combined.

Alibaba’s first 11.11 event included 27 brands, generating a Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) of 7.8 million dollars or 50 million yuan. & nbsp; In 2021, Alibaba’s single day GMV reached an all-time high of $ 84.54 billion. This is an increase of over one million percent (108.3746%) in just 12 years, an increase of 8% compared to 2020.

Singles’ Day 2021 saw the participation of over 290,000 brands, including 70,000 for the first time. Estimates declare the participation of 14 million discounted products for 900 million connected Chinese . In this year strong emphasis was placed on issues of environment and sustainability, themes that are deeply felt in China at the moment, also on government push.

Yang Guang, vice president of Alibaba said: “We have exploited the power of 11.11 as a platform to fulfill our social responsibility. This year’s festival was a significant milestone as part of our commitment to building a sustainable future. “

What did people buy in 2021?

According to CNBC, in 2021 there was a surge in purchases of luxury products and items for pets.

JD.com claimed that the iPhone’s transaction volume exceeded 100 million yuan in 2 seconds after the start of final sales on November 10th.

Both Alibaba and JD said they have seen an increase in shoppers among sub-second-tier cities, a key target for ecommerce businesses as they seek to grow their user base.

What awaits us on 11.11.2022?

This year’s Single day began in late October with a series of pre-sales aimed at ensuring the success of the largest shopping event in the world. 

Will pandemic, economic instability and consumer uncertainty affect the great rise of this event? We just have to wait a few days and find out.

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