Why is China’s Singles day such a big deal? And why does it boost the online economy in particular?

NB Team

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In the run up to Black Friday, we took a look at another huge shopping holiday elsewhere in the world. China’s Singles day has had a far reaching impact in the retail space. The day generates over nine billion dollars for ecommerce giant Alibaba alone, and it’s only set to grow.

From humble beginnings as an anti-valentine bachelor university group – it has now grown into a behemoth holiday for both men and women. Unlike their parents or grandparents, young Chinese singletons have more disposable income and more opportunities to spend it.

Wholesale, multi-variety websites like JD.com and Taobao cater to this, from foreign luxury goods to electronics and novelties, all budgets and tastes are thought of. Alibaba started the online shopping trend by creating a yearly Singles day sale after seeing a lull in November, which was in between more traditional national holidays. This was in 2009 when ecommerce in China was still developing and there was next to no in-store competition.

Another reason why Singles day is such a hit online is because now more than ever, the use of mobile is growing at a rapid rate. Currently 594 million people use their mobile devices to shop, search and socialise online and home grown Chinese mobile companies like Xiaomi and OnePlus are reaping the benefits, as are international brands like Apple. Online sales however are set to increase rapidly in the next decade or so as China invests more money into growing the internet infrastructure.

One significant cause for Singles day growth is the sizable gender imbalance. The one-child policy as well as cultural norms and property law, has led to a male surplus in China. This means that singledom is the norm and that there is a huge cultural shift from family and community based attitudes to more independent thinking and living.

With more income, technology and internet than ever, the holiday is only going to grow with China’s aging population, and what’s interesting is that it seems Singles day is reflecting China as a society, as well as an economic superpower.