Events, Lifestyle, Stories

11.11 Annual Sale Origins: An extravagant celebration of singlehood

The annual 11.11 Super Sale is back!

November 11, also known as Singles’ Day, is the world’s greatest shopping holiday, generating an unbelievable amount of sales every year. In 2019, online shoppers from China alone spent a jaw-dropping 410 billion yuan (US$60.4 billion) in 24 hours. 

Imagine how much was spent worldwide.

Popular around the globe, this Chinese shopping festival has made its way to even the Philippines, where shoppers now heavily anticipate promos and deals not only on November 11 but also on similar spin-off events such as 9.9 and 10.10. Excitement and sales have surged on major mobile shopping platforms like Shopee and Lazada and will only continue to rise in the years to come. 

But how did this major shopping event start? And why is it called Singles’ Day anyway?

Here’s all that you need to know about 11.11.


The humble beginnings of Singles’ Day

Maybe the first thing to notice about November 11 is that it is numerically written with only the number one, constantly repeated as if in the emphasis of its singularity. Observing this detail, some Chinese university students decided to use the day to celebrate their singlehood and labeled the date Singles’ Day or Double 11 (双11), as it is alternatively called. 

Seen as the opposite of Valentine’s Day, those who celebrate 11.11 go on an extravagant sort of retail therapy to splurge on themselves, defying societal expectations of having to be in a relationship. 

Commercialization of the date came in 2009 when technology and e-commerce giant Alibaba Group recognized the opportunity to turn 11.11 into an event where shoppers would want to buy as many things as they want—at a cheaper cost—for themselves. During its first year, Alibaba offered customers up to 50% discount on products from 25 merchants and earned US$7 million in a day. 

In contrast, Alibaba’s report of Singles’ Day 2019 shows sales of over US$38.4 billion settled through Chinese mobile payment app Alipay, with more than 200,000 participating brands from all over the globe. 


Singles’ Day celebrations in 2020

Every year, 11.11 is projected to be greater than ever, with several pre-sales, events, and galas hyping up the big day. Kicking off the retail mood as early as the beginning of November was Tmall’s Double 11 Global Shopping Festival. The televised event featured star-studded performances from many of China’s biggest names, including Victoria Song and Wang Yibo. 


Wang Yibo’s dance rendition of Bruno Mars’ “Versace on the Floor” accumulated over 750 million views on Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo. (Source: QQ)


The actual shopping holiday will be welcomed by Alibaba’s 2020 Tmall Double 11 Gala. Previous years invited international acts such as Mariah Carey, Pharell Williams, and Taylor Swift. This year, in addition to local celebrities including Victoria Song, Fan Chengcheng, and Mao Buyi, Katy Perry will be headlining the show. 

The gala will premiere at 7:30 PM on November 10, 2020 and will be live-streamed on Youtube. 


While there are no actual concerts held for 11.11 in the Philippines, local levels of excitement and anticipation are not far behind. As of the midnight of November 10, merely one day before the event, Shopee 11.11 has topped the country’s trends on Twitter. 

As tweeted by a user less than 24 hours before the sale: 

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