Remko Tanis • 09 November 2018

Think Christmas or Valentine’s Day are over-commercialized holidays? Think again. 11 November is the largest shopping holiday in the world. It’s been like that for a couple of years, a feat accomplished by the people of China pretty much all on their own.

Shoppers in Shanghai, China. Photo: (C) Remko Tanis

Shoppers in Shanghai, China. Photo: (C) Remko Tanis

The rest of the world is catching on, however, cementing 11 November as the premier money spending day of the year.

The 11th day of the 11th month is celebrated in China as a Pride festival for single people. Reason: 11.11 is four single sticks in a row; four separate, single individuals. The way you celebrate it is by going online and buying yourself a nice thing or two.

Completely contrary to the idea of celebrating Singles’ Pride, the 11th of November has also become a very popular day to get married. Because 11 is made up of two single sticks - also known as a couple. This kind of reasoning can win any argument.

Anyway, the holiday had been simmering around since the early nineties, but caught fire to become the world’s biggest shopping spree when, in 2009, Chinese online everything company Alibaba decided it should be exactly that.

The special  11.11 site  on Alibaba’s T-mall.

The special 11.11 site on Alibaba’s T-mall.

Apparently no one is immune to the PR prowess of Alibaba. Sales through its sites have jumped from USD 5.8 billion in 2013 to USD 25.4 billion last year. The site’s payment service Alipay registered 256,000 transactions per second.

Online stores have prepared meticulously for the upcoming event. Shoppers in the Singapore market can expect live streams, buddy flash deals (??) and discounts of up to 90 percent. Remember: all to celebrate Singles’ Pride. Or to rejoice about getting hitched, I’ve lost track of the real purpose of it all.


Just now, I got this message in my inbox for an 11% discount on long distance bus travel in Malaysia and Singapore. I’ve done a couple of overnight bus rides in Malaysia. It’s surefire way to feeling very, very single.

Of course, prepare to see loads of stories like this one next week on the huge amount of trash generated by the boxes used to send all these online purchases in.

The Shopping (or Singles’) Pride will even wash over Switzerland for the first time this weekend. The 11th falling on a Sunday, and stores being closed in the country on a Sunday, it will be an online-only event with retailers offering deep discounts only two weeks before they’ll do so again on Black Friday, 23 November.

Personally, I think the people behind Japanese site Sora are the only ones left who stick to the true meaning of Singles’ Pride. They’ve done some deep digging to come up with an excellent list of conveyer belt sushi restaurants that are best for drinking alone.