Remember that episode of Sex & the City where Carrie took off a pair of her Manolo Blahnik’s at a friend’s house party only to have someone walk off with them? She expects her friend to buy her a new pair and there is some major pushback from the party thrower even though Carrie points out that she has spent thousands of dollars celebrating all of her friend’s life choices such as getting married and having three children. Always the observant writer she notes that when you are single, you really aren’t celebrated especially in the form of money and gifts. “Think about it. If you are single, after graduation there isn't one occasion where people celebrate you...Hallmark doesn't make a ‘congratulations, you didn't marry the wrong guy’ card. And where's the flatware for going on vacation alone?” she says.
Well Carrie would have been very happy if she lived in China (and liked online shopping). Online retailers in the country, led by Alibaba, have been celebrating Singles’ Day by discounting merchandise by at least 50 percent and sometimes up to 90 percent. That’s right. You get the most amazing deals just because you are using Tinder just for hookups and not for soulmate searching.
Last year, Alibiba sold $9.3 billion of merchandise in 24 hours and today they dwarfed that number pulling in $14.3 billion. Alibaba reported and about 74% of sales were from mobile phones. “It’s literally a 24 hour orgy of consumption,” Michael Zakkour, vice president, China/Asia Pacific Practice at global consulting firm Tompkins International, told USA Today.
Singles Day wasn’t always about deals deals deals though. It began in 1993 when a group of students at Nanjing University decided to celebrate their lack of a relationship by buying themselves gifts without the help of any massive online marketplaces. But 16 years later Alibaba decided to jump on the bandwagon, promoted sales on its site and turning the holiday into the commercial juggernaut it is today.
This does seem reminiscent of Black Friday except more low key as it is all online—no crowds in line at midnight, stampede worries or rushed Thanksgiving dinners. All the desperation in people’s faces is hidden in the privacy of their home or phone (though some brick and mortar stores are starting to hold sales on this day too).
So will this singles appreciation day come to the U.S. soon? Zakkour said U.S. retailers are definitely seeing the potential opportunities with eighty million millennials in America and $200 billion in annual buying power. This could definitely work in the U.S. As Carrie Bradshaw said, “The fact is, sometimes it’s really hard to walk in a single woman’s shoes.That’s why we need really special ones now and then to make the walk a little more fun.” And if you can get them 90 percent off, that makes them even more special.