Singles Day History and Statistics

How did Singles day start? And how did it become one of the biggest sales days in the world? What are the most popular products on Singles day?

Here are some answers to the most interesting questions regarding Singles day (or Double 11).

Origin of the Name ‘Singles Day’

The term ‘Singles Day’ (Chinese: ‘Guangon Ji’ or ‘The single sticks holiday’) was first coined at Nanjing University, China, in the 1990s.

There are a few stories that are commonly used when explaining the origins of this relatively new phenomenon, but the most widely accepted story for Singles day’s origin is the ‘Mingcaowuzhu theory’, coming from Nanjing University.

According to this story, four students of Nanjing University’s Mingcaowuzhu (“all single men”) dorm decided to initiate a new holiday, dedicated to events and celebrations for single men and women.

They have picked the date November 11 for the new holiday, because the date 11/11 resembles four ones (four singles).

The new students’ holiday was successful and in the following years it has spread to other universities across China.

How did Singles Day Become So Popular?

Singles day was initially celebrated only by singles, hence its name, “Singles day”.

The holiday became popular in Chinese Universities, with many events, parties and blind dates for single Chinese men and women.

The date 11/11/11 was defined as “Singles day of the century”. This year the festivities have reached the highest level, and many promotions and activities were common this year throughout China.

Although this date is meant to celebrate the bachelorette, many love-related issues are discussed on this date in the Chinese media, which often highlights the desire among young Chinese to find a spouse.

On 2009, Jack Ma, the founder of the Chinese E-commerce giant decided to transform the unofficial holiday to a shopping extravaganza, with discounts up to 50 percent off on the companies websites.

Ma’s idea was a success and Alibaba has generated about $7 million in sales at the end Singles day 2009.

Since then, more and more websites, in China and around the world, joined the Singles day shopping celebration, making it one of the biggest shopping days worldwide.

In Singles day 2015, Alibaba broke a Guinness World Record for the highest online sales revenue generated by a single company in 24 hours, with sales exceeding $14 billion.

This record has been broken 6 times since – on each one of the following Singles day celebrations.

Singles Day Statistics

Chinese e-commerce giants Alibaba and JD.com have reached around $115 billion in sales during the Singles Day 2020 promotions – from Nov. 1 to midnight on Nov. 12.

During Singles Day 2019, online sales on Alibaba Group’s websites reached a peak of $38.4 billion, a 24% increase compared to 2018.

These figures far suppress the online revenues of U.S. retail’s biggest shopping holidays of 2019, from Black Friday to Cyber Monday which had generated $24.6 billion in online revenues.

Singles day – Alibaba Group sales – Year by year

  • 2009 – $ 76 million.
  • 2010 – $ 1.4 billion.
  • 2011 – $ 2.1 billion.
  • 2012 – $ 3.1 billion.
  • 2013 – $ 5.8 billion.
  • 2014 – $ 9.3 billion.
  • 2015 – $ 14.3 billion.
  • 2016 – $ 17.8 billion
  • 2017 – $ 25.4 billion.
  • 2018 – $ 30.8 billion.
  • 2019 – $ 38.3 billion.
  • 2020 – $ 74.1 billion.

The Most Popular Brands on Singles Day

According to Alibaba, 15 companies grossed over $143 million (1 billion yuan) in sales, and almost 300 brands grossed over $14.3 million (100 million yuan) during Singles Day 2019.

The most popular brands on Singles day 2019 were: Apple, Bose, Huawei, Xiaomi, Gap, H&M, L’Oréal, Nike, Uniqlo, Nestlé, Levi’s, Estée Lauder, MUJI, The North Face and Philips.