China's Singles Day

Why Chinese Singles Spend

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Nov 12, 2013

Yesterday was Singles’ Day in China. Started by a group of college students at Nanjing University during the 1990s, Singles’ Day is when unmarrieds shower each other with gifts. Falling on 11-11, the date is “reminiscent of the Chinese phrase ‘bare branches–for bachelors and spinsters.'”

Beyond a day to recognize singles, 11-11 has become associated with e-commerce discounts. China’s online behemoth, Alibaba (due soon for an IPO and owned partially by Yahoo), rung up $5.75 billion for the day, more than 2 1/2 times last year’s US Cyber Monday sales. Bargain hunters bought ducks’ tongues and French wines and Pampers diapers and furniture. Underwear and phone sales soared. Hiring extra workers and adding vehicles, delivery services were swamped by orders for 152 million parcels.

Chinese Consumer Spending Singles' Day

From: Bloomberg. For 2013, you can add a bar for $5.75 billion.

Our bottom line? Analyses of the Chinese economy point to excessive household saving, inadequate spending from Chinese consumers and too much dependence on exports and investment. However, with increased online spending and shoppers becoming affluent enough to buy in bulk, many Chinese consumers are spending more.

Still though, private consumption is relatively small:

Chinese consumer spending is relatively low.

Chinese Consumer from CRS

Sources and Resources: The most interesting articles on Singles” Day were from the NY TimesForeign Policy, and  WSJ. More academic, these reports from the CRS and the Economist Intelligence Unit provided excellent background on the Chinese economy while in this econlife post, we looked more closely at the Chinese consumer.

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