China's Singles Day Shoppers Set World Record in Online Sales

Shoppers in China set a new world record for e-commerce sales in a single day yesterday, Nov. 11, in celebration of Singles Day, a pseudo-holiday to celebrate those who are unmarried. Chinese shoppers spent 30 billion yuan ($5.75 billion) on Tmall and Taobao, the two shopping platforms of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. This revenue is nearly double the 18.3 billion yuan ($3.0 billion ) spent on Singles Day last year, and two and a half times the U.S. e-commerce record of $1.465 billion from Cyber Monday 2012.

A total of 171 million orders were placed within 24 hours on Alibaba, with sales launching at midnight. Discounts of up to 70 percent off were offered from more than 20,000 sellers. Alibaba reported Monday that it had 402 million unique visitors to its sites and prepared 152 million packages for shipping.

No department was exempt from record-breaking sales on Singles Day. Alibaba's top seller, Xiaomi, sold 500 million yuan ($82 million) worth of its mobile handsets and accessories, while household appliance makers Haier and Skyworth, and apparel brands Camel and Jack Jones all sold more than 100 million yuan ($16.4 million) worth of goods each. Tmall.com sold 1.6 million bras and 2 million pairs of underpants, while online car retailer Autohome.com.cn, says it sold 17,776 cars during the 24-hour event for 2.6 billion yuan ($427 million).

Among the non-Chinese brands participating this year were U.S. companies Nike, Adidas, Gap, Toys 'R' Us, Forever 21, and Japan's Uniqlo.

November 11, or 11/11, was proclaimed Singles Day because of the four number ones in the date. The holiday was begun by Chinese college students in the 1990s as a version of Valentine's Day for people without romantic partners. Some singles use the day to treat each other to dinner or give gifts to catch the attention of their crush. 

Alibaba's Tmall site began marketing Singles Day as its biggest sales event in 2009 with only 27 retailers, and soon after, hundreds of thousands of retailers jumped on board. 

China has the world's biggest population of Internet users, with 538 million people online. Its population of online shoppers also is the biggest at 193 million, versus 170 million for the United States, according to Boston Consulting Group.

For more see:
-This New York Times article
-This Bloomberg article
-This Associated Press article

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