In Depth

China's ‘Singles Day’ turns Valentine’s Day on its head

Shoppers expected to ring up £15bn in sales during China's 24-hour retail spending spree

Whether you have loved and lost or never loved at all, Valentine's Day can be one of the most difficult days of the year.

But what if there was a “reverse” Valentine's Day, where people revelled in their freedom?

Well, China has just such a day, and it's become a gargantuan phenomenon.

Singles Day is an annual festival observed by Chinese youth on 11 November. The date - 11/11 - was chosen because of the significance of the number “1”, symbolic of solitude.

It is a day for single people not just to celebrate being alone, but to treat themselves to online gifts.

The Daily Telegraph says the holiday started as an “obscure anti-Valentine's celebration for single people in China back in the 1990s”, but has grown into “the world's biggest online shopping day after Jack Ma, the billionaire owner of shopping giant Alibaba spotted an opportunity”. 

Alibaba is seen as “China's Amazon equivalent”, writes The Independent.

While Singles Day may not be observed in the West, consumers spent £13.5bn on gifts in 24 hours during 2016's celebration. Black Friday, in comparison, recorded sales of £2.28bn.

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