Yesterday in China was Singles’ Day, which if you’re wondering, is exactly like it sounds. The holiday is an anti-Valentine’s Day of sorts, where single folks celebrate their freedom by doing the only thing that can bring a singleton comfort in this lonely, loveless world: Shopping. Singles’ Day is China’s biggest online shopping day of the year, and this year has been one of the biggest yet for the Alibaba Group, a Chinese e-commerce destination.
The numbers are in and they are definitely impressive. According to WWD and Forbes, the Alibaba Group did $9.3 billion in sales, up from last year when they peaked at $5.8 billion. With the help of over 200 other brands and retailers from over 20 countries, Alibaba gave Chinese consumers access to local and international wares, which also gave foreign retailers the opportunity to participate in this spending frenzy. The sales from Singles’ Day are significantly higher than those of Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined, which only amounted to $1.74 billion in sales.
Seeing what a huge success Singles’ Day was for Alibaba, perhaps American markets should consider adopting the holiday. Stateside, retailers are doing everything possible to make more money on Black Friday. Walmart just announced plans to extend its Black Friday sale to five days. Target will cut into its employees’ family time by opening its doors at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Obviously, U.S. retailers are looking to turn more of a profit during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday window. But could the answer lie in instituting a day like Singles’ Day as opposed to opening earlier and closing later?
Black Friday is the start of the holiday shopping season, so people are running to and fro spending money on their friends, families and loved ones. In China, Singles’ Day is all about treating yourself. Perhaps we can attribute Alibaba’s huge success to something simple — human selfishness. While studies have shown that spending money on other people can make you a happier person, maybe Singles’ Day was such a success because people also love to spend money on themselves. As TIME points out, America is a nation of self-gifters. We love an excuse to buy stuff for ourselves. While Singles’ Day’s November 11 date could be a tough sell since it is already Veterans Day, we think it may not be such a bad holiday for retailers to latch onto. We have, after all, already commercialized a day meant to honor the people who fought for our country.
Besides, it’s a great way to make money. And isn’t that what America is all about?