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China's "Singles Day" Is The World's Hugest, Craziest Online Shopping Spree

How a jokey online holiday for bachelors became a mammoth doorbuster sale triple the size of Black Friday.

Posted on November 12, 2013, at 4:48 p.m. ET

Chinese postal workers dealing with 323 million deliveries from doorbuster online sales on 11/11.

Online retail giant TMall celebrating their record sales.
weibo.com

Online retail giant TMall celebrating their record sales.

When four Nanjing University students jokingly declared 11/11 a national singles day, they probably did not envision creating the biggest sales event in the world. It started in the 90s as a cheeky meme, a way for web-savvy Chinese people to mock their own singlehood and invite their other single friends to pamper themselves at bars, restaurants and karaoke lounges. They chose 11/11 because one is the loneliest number, etc. Then businesses began to take notice.

In 2009, online retail giant Alibaba co-opted the day and announced it would be selling everything half-off on taobao.com. By 2012, 11/11 "bare branches day" surpassed America's Cyber Monday as the briskest shopping day on earth.

This year, Chinese online retail giant TMaill drew in a record-shattering $5.7 billion of sales within 24 hours (compared to $1.46 billion for America's Cyber Monday in 2012). TechInAsia reports that 402 million visitors flocked to the site within a day.

Though the shopping spree is no longer only for singles, TMall still sold a lot of bachelor and bachelorette-themed merchandise:

"Singlehood is a table for one at a wonton shack."
detail.tmall.com

"Singlehood is a table for one at a wonton shack."

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Low-calorie instant noodle marketed towards single urban women.
taobao.com

Low-calorie instant noodle marketed towards single urban women.

An "official" certificate of bachelor- and bachelorette-dom.
detail.tmall.com

An "official" certificate of bachelor- and bachelorette-dom.

"For a homely person, looking in the mirror is like watching a horror story unfold."
detail.tmall.com

"For a homely person, looking in the mirror is like watching a horror story unfold."

"You're im-portant! Even your portliness makes me potent for you." Bad pun T-shirts seem to be a global affliction.
detail.tmall.com

"You're im-portant! Even your portliness makes me potent for you."

Bad pun T-shirts seem to be a global affliction.

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Stuffed arm-candy for those who live alone.
detail.tmall.com

Stuffed arm-candy for those who live alone.

"Don't let Single's Day catch you alone! Let Fen's Wines keep you company."
weibo.com

"Don't let Single's Day catch you alone! Let Fen's Wines keep you company."

TMall and Taobao even sell short-term bachelor pad rentals on their website. This one is located in Chengdu.
kezhan.trip.taobao.com

TMall and Taobao even sell short-term bachelor pad rentals on their website. This one is located in Chengdu.

Or how about ordering a BMW online to really pamper yourself?
detail.tmall.com

Or how about ordering a BMW online to really pamper yourself?

Ironically for a celebration started organically as an anti-Valentine's, 11/11 Singles Day is seeing anti-commercial backlash.

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