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Forget about Black Friday, Singles' Day is where the money is at

By Vivian Hendriksz



London - As Americans are waking up today to a plate full of stuffing, turkey and corn bread, retailers across the country - and overseas in the UK - will be counting down the minutes to tomorrow: Black Friday. Traditionally seen as the start to the holiday shopping period, as well as the day retailers go from the red into the black, this promotional shopping frenzy has spread from the United States to the UK and the rest of Europe.

Retailers gear up for Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the US and UK...

This year's Black Friday is said to be the biggest yet in the UK, with consumers expected to spend between 1.27 billion pounds and 1.69 billion pounds on November 25 alone, up from the 1.1 billion pounds spent in 2015 according to IMRG and Conlumino. In addition, the borrowed promotional shopping day is predicted to become the largest mobile shopping event in the UK, according to IMRG, who foresees consumers spending up to 6.77 billion pounds this week.

On the flipside, in its hometown of the US, enthusiasm for Black Friday is said to have been waning, as both customers and retailers become increasing warily of extreme discounting and the in-store lines, headaches and struggles it brings. Brick and mortar stores witnessed a decrease of more than 1 billion dollars last year during Black Friday, as sales fell from 11.6 billion dollars in 2014 to 10.4 billion dollars in 2015, according to ShopperTrak. This undoubtedly contributed to the boost in online sales, which increased 14 percent during Black Friday in 2015, bringing in 2.72 billion dollars altogether.

However impressive these statistics may be, there is another shopping festival which manages to steal the show year in and year out away from Black Friday - one that consumers in the US and UK are unlikely to be too familiar with, namely Singles' Day. Do not be too worried if you have never heard of the online shopping day, as it mainly takes place in China. Taking place annually on November 11, Singles' Day was originally invented by four single male students at Nanjing University in 1993 as a type of 'anti-Valentine's' event and a way to meet women.

...But Singles' Day continues to surpass both days each year

The event was picked up by Jack Ma, founder of Chinese giant Alibaba, in 2009 who saw it as an opportunity to encourage people to shop. Fast forward a few years later and Singles' Day, now dubbed 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, has grown to become the Asian shopping event of the year, complete, live stream See-Now Buy-Now fashion catwalk shows, an appearance from the Beckhams as well as a VR shopping experience.

Which is why is should come as little surprise that 11.11 2016 broke all records and reached close to 18 billion dollars ​ (17.8 billion dollars to be exact) in sales in just 24 hours, up from 14.3 billion dollars in sales in 2015. In fact, the 1 billion dollar barrier had already been surpassed within the first five minutes of Singles' Day 2016, according to Bloomberg, with sales surpassing 12 billion dollars on Alibaba within 12 hours of the shopping event this year, making both Black Friday and Cyber Monday look like small fries in comparison.

The average basket order size for Black Friday is nearly 4.5 times as large as the average basket size for 11.11, with consumers in the UK predicted to spend 203 pounds on average. However, considering that an average of 120,000 orders were places every minute throughout the day on 11.11 2016, according to IBM, with 27 million purchases coming in via mobile devices alone, this means that 610 million orders were placed on Singles' Day this year in comparison to the 80 million placed on Black Friday in the US last year, cementing its place as the biggest global online shopping event of the year.

A number of shoppers and retailers a like wonder if Alibaba has plans to extend 11.11 overseas to the UK or US. Unsurprisingly an increasing selection of fashion retailers participated in the event thes year via the Chinese conglomerate online marketplace Tmall.com, including Burberry, Asos and Topshop, with the latter reporting a sales surge of more than 900 percent in 2015. In addition, this year Nasty Gal, Monki, Forever 21 (who last year ran a Veteran’s Day sale instead) and H&M, all features Singles’ Day promotions in their non-Chinese email newsletters for the first time.

On average, most retailers offered an 11 percent discount according to retail research firm Edited, with H&M and Monki using the code 'Singleladies'. Other retailers saw Nasty Gal offer a more tempting 25 percent discount and Bik Bok 30 percent. Nevertheless, the online shopping event is unlikely to become incredibly significant overseas, especially in the UK as it coincides with Armistice Day and in the US as it conflicts with Veteran's Day. However, Alibaba has little reason not to jump on board the Black Friday bandwagon, and this year has decided to roll out its U.S retailers Black Friday offers to consumers in China via Tmall.com

Homepage photo: Still from 'Confessions of a Shopaholic'

Photo 1: Pixabay

Photo 2: : Flickr, by m01229

Photo 3 & 4 : Alibaba Group, www.alibabagroup.com

Black Friday
Cyber Monday
Singles Day