Waiting around for that special someone to give you presents? Not in China, you aren’t—at least not today. Instead, you’re likely sitting in front of your computer screen, browsing—and buying—clothing, electronics, or other items you covet.
Each year, November 11 is known as Singles’ Day in China. Individuals who aren’t in a relationship celebrate their unattached status by partying, singing karaoke, and treating themselves to gifts.
Although college students originally started the quirky holiday in the 1990s, retailers saw a business opportunity and commercialized it— especially China’s biggest e-commerce giant, Alibaba, which transformed Singles’ Day into a giant purchasing event in 2009 by offering heavy discounts on everything from wine to cars. As a result, the mini-holiday has swelled into the world’s biggest online shopping day, putting Black Friday and Cyber Monday to shame.
According to The Verge and Slate, Alibaba’s three websites raked in $9.34 billion last year on Singles' Day alone. This year, Alibaba is expected to garner 75% of the day’s sales—and a Nielsen survey expects spending to grow by an average of 22% per person. In comparison, Business Insider reports that Black Friday and Cyber Monday will only pull in $5.7 billion combined.
Yes, this explains why Apple chose to release the iPad Pro on 11/11, and also why American stores like Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Macy’s will also be participating in Singles’ Day this year. Turns out, being unmarried is big business—and all over the world, people are always looking for an excuse to treat themselves well.