Ready, Set, Shop! Your 11.11 Primer

All over china, people are getting their clicking fingers ready for the biggest shopping day of the year – scratch that – the biggest shopping day in the whole world, referred to simply as ’11.11’.


Tonight at midnight, China’s online retailers will unleash huge, huge savings that will see Chinese shoppers spending mind-boggling amounts of money over the following 24 hours.



Last year’s 11.11 mayhem saw e-commerce giant Alibaba rake in a total of 18 billion dollars in just 24 hours, 7 billion of which they made in just the first two hours!


The western equivalent of 11.11, Black Friday, doesn’t even come close to comparing, with online sales of just 5 billion dollars over the Thanksgiving weekend – and a majority of the Black Friday shopping involves actually leaving your house and waiting in line for stores to open.


Black Friday? More like ‘Wack Friday’!



The origins of 11.11 can be traced to some time in the 90s when Nanjing University students decided to celebrate their singledom by recognizing November 11th as Single’s Day. We all know that one is the loneliest number, and the date, 11.11 is all single digits. However from a typographical viewpoint, November 11 is referred to as the ‘bare sticks holiday’: 1 1 . 1 1


Clear enough for you?


So how did a sad singles anti-holiday become the biggest spending day on the planet?



It wasn’t until 2009 that Single’s Day became what it is today, when Alibaba ran with the idea of singles treating themselves with gifts. Since then, it’s taken on a life of its own – you certainly don’t need to be single to appreciate saving a bunch of money on everything from sneakers to electronics – stuff that we can all fall in love with!


Okay, so aside from annoying your Chinese work colleagues, how can you take advantage of all the 11.11 sales?


A quick Internet search will point you in the direction of third-party sites that list out popular sale items for you in English, however even a rudimentary Chinese-reading ability will allow you to get by with no trouble.


Whatever your online shopping method is, you’d better get ready, because it all kicks off in just a few hours!




by Colin Hanna

Writer, comedian, food lover and fellow about town