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What is Singles Day and how is it celebrated?

This massive shopping event is all about championing being on your own

Celebrated every year on exactly the same day, the 11 November date symbolises one person on their own ( Miramax )

You might think you know what the biggest shopping day of the year is, but we reckon you’ll be wrong.

No, it’s not Black Friday or the classic Boxing Day, it’s actually Singles Day, which is estimated to have become about four times bigger than Black Friday.

Originating in China, it’s celebrated on 11 November every year because the number one symbolises a single person, and the 11th day of the 11th month written out numerically shows four single “sticks”.

In 2011, it was called the Singles Day of the century as the date had six ones in it.

How did Singles Day start?

Also known as “bare sticks holiday” because of the way it looks, the celebration day began in 1993 as a sort of anti-Valentine’s Day.

It was started by a group of students at Nanjing University who wanted to celebrate their singledom.

During its early days it was also known as Batchelor’s Day as it was mostly just men who celebrated the occasion, but now it’s championed by everyone. 

To celebrate this holiday, people buy gifts but not for each other, for themselves. 

What has Singles Day got to do with shopping?

Alibaba, essentially China’s version of Amazon which was founded by China’s second richest man Jack Ma, first commercialised the event in 2009.

In the space of just 26 years, it’s managed to amass to an event that’s bigger than any other online sale, including Black Friday, Christmas and Amazon Prime. The sales begin at midnight on 11 November and last for just 24 hours.

But even within that short time frame, last year the event had about £24bn worth of sales. This was up 27 per cent from the previous year.

The majority of the event happens on the Chinese website Tmall, which is owned by Alibaba. 

Other websites including JD.com also partake in the event, which has since been dubbed the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival by Ma.

Although it has a global reach, unless you’re familiar with Chinese websites and language, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to read them as there’s no English translation.

But for shoppers outside of China, there are increasing amounts of American and European brands getting involved too with their own sales, while brands such as Asos, M&S and Waitrose which have marketplaces on Tmall.

But because the date in the UK and Europe is Armistice Day, it’s unlikely to become as big as the Chinese event. Although many British and European brands will have their own deals to help you celebrate singledom.

Check back for our selection of Singles Day deals and for our IndyBest on the best Singles Day treats.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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