Double Eleven (11.11) or Singles' Day Festival, initiated by Chinese retailer Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, has become the biggest online sales festival across the world.
The festival kicked off in Asia today.
It is expected that the festival will rake in significant profits for online retailer Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
That is good news for the e-commerce giant, which lost $76bn of its market value last week after the Chinese government suspended the much-anticipated IPO of Alibaba's financial arm, Ant Group, reports Al Jazeera.
What you need to know about the 'Double Eleven Day'
The festival's name is tied to the date – November 11 – but 11/11 also looks like four single people standing in a line. And the pronunciation of all of those elevens in Mandarin sounds similar to an idiom that means "a whole lifetime" or "all my life."
That is a little gentler than the day's alternate name, "Guang Gun Jie" ("Bare Sticks Day") which is a play on the numbers themselves and the idea that single people are lonely sticks that do not add to the family tree.
The day has ironically also become a popular date to celebrate relationships (as to "pair up singles"), with over 4,000 couples being married in Beijing on this date in 2011, far greater than the daily average of 700 marriages.
How the day was introduced?
The Singles' Day was started by four bachelors at Nanjing University in 1993 as a kind of protest against Valentine's Day in China's traditionally marriage-obsessed culture.
Is it for all the single ladies, too?
Feminists have criticised how traditional Chinese society views single women. "The Chinese girl was brought up, then as now, with matrimony in view as her goal," Confucius wrote, and the unmarried are sometimes branded as "sheng nu" ("leftover women") and looked down upon if they were not wives and mothers. For that reason, some see Singles' Day as deeply sexist – even if it has turned into an online shopping blitz, Racked reported.
The day has become the largest offline and online shopping day in the world.
Sales on Alibaba's sites, Tmall and Taobao, reached US$5.8 billion in 2013, US$9.3 billion in 2014, US$14.3 billion in 2015, US$17.8 billion in 2016, and over US$25.4 billion in 2017. JD.com also achieved a sales record of US$19.1 billion in 2017, while Lazada drums up US$123 million.
As more people join in the celebration during this holiday, many companies have taken the opportunity to target younger consumers including businesses such as restaurants, karaoke parlours, and online shopping malls. For example, the Chinese online shopping mall Taobao sold goods worth 19 billion CNY (about US$3 billion) on 11 November, 2012.
On Singles' Day in 2017, Alibaba set a world record for most payment transactions during the festival.
Alibaba shoppers exceeded 213.5 billion yuan (USD $30.7 billion) in total spend during 2018 Singles Day. Rival JD.com hosts an eleven-day shopping festival as well, which garnered USD $19.1 billion, bringing the Chinese total to USD $44.5 billion total sales volume.
In 2019, Alibaba said that its gross merchandise volume for the whole event came in at 268.4 billion yuan (USD $38.4 billion), an increase of 26% from the previous year.
The event is now nearly four times the size of America's biggest shopping days, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
What about this year?
Alibaba is hoping wealthy Chinese consumers will be eager to spend despite the pandemic, searching for luxury goods online that they might have bought on trips abroad before Covid-19 travel restrictions hit.
Alibaba is also introducing two million new products – double the amount from last year – Reuters reported.
So will the pandemic boost or hurt sales?
Online retailers have generally fared well as shoppers have been stuck at home clicking their way to some semblance of normalcy, although Covid-19 has caused widespread unemployment around the globe, which definitely slows the shopping.
But like Amazon, which moved its Prime Days to October and got a "Christmas creep" jump on holiday shoppers, Alibaba also held early discount days from 1 to 3 November and sales from all 11 days will factor into its gross merchandise volume totals. It is betting those 11 days will mingle for a profitable Singles' Day.
Daraz expects 15x sales during '11:11' festival
Daraz Bangladesh, a concern of Alibaba Group, is expecting to see 15 times more business during the world's biggest 24-hour online sales festival titled "Eleven Eleven (11.11) campaign" than it does in a regular day.
The sale festival kicked off on Tuesday midnight.