'Singles Day' generates big numbers in e-China

Nov. 11, 2013 at 12:48 PM
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BEIJING, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- China's largest online store Alibaba said Monday that it had reached a holiday sales target of $5 billion, a sum that dwarfs Cyber Monday in the United States.

The New York Times said that the one company's sales for the so-called "Singles Day" holiday was about 2.5 times that of sales across the United States on its biggest e-sales event for the year.

That said, Alibaba still had some time to go, as it announced it reached the $5 billion target by 9 p.m. on Monday.

"Singles Day" is a decidedly unofficial holiday, but one that retailers seized upon when looking for a coattail to ride for an online sales holiday.

Certainly, more than just unmarried people shop online on "Singles Day," which was a casual holiday until e-commerce put it on the map. Until then, "Singles Day" was a day those who were not married could take center stage for a day to celebrate their status or weep about it, if that suited them.

It is celebrated on 11 November, because that date, numerically, is made up of four singles, as in 11/11.

But the day's original focus has been dwarfed by its new one: Shopping online.

"Chinese people love to shop. If you have the right excuse and the right occasion, they will spend money. One of the tactics to get people to buy is to create a more festive occasion," said Eric Wong, managing director for Greater China at Possible, an e-commerce consulting firm in Shanghai.

And what's a shopping holiday without discounts? "Chinese consumers are bargain-hunters, and that is what is driving the success of 11/11," said Serge Hoffmann, a partner at market research firm Bain in Hong Kong.

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