Singles Day 2020 – A Shopping Festival In the Time of a Pandemic

Singles Day, the worlds largest 24 hours shopping event, has passed once again, reaching billions of sales. This years event was special with covid-19 in center of everything for the past months. The pandemic has put the global economy under pressure. However, China has been the first country to recover from the pandemic, and has already returned to a ‘new’ normal. One pre-existing trend that has been amplified during the pandemics is livestreaming. Livestreaming has been present in China for several years already, but has played a bigger role during this years event, enticing more customers to buy. Read more about livestreaming here:

If we compare Singles Day to the other major global shopping festivals, we get a better understanding of how big Singles Day really is.

$ 38,4 Billion$ 9,7 Billion$ 7,9 Billion
Comparison of total sales in USD, year 2019

Singles Day is over twice as big (measured in sales) as Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. The Singles Day number (38,4 B) is measured across all Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms.

During this years Singles Day, Alibaba, the biggest e-commerce company in China, had a pre-event from november 1 to november 3, resulting in a shopping “season”, and not just a shopping “day” like the previous years. From Nov 1 to Nov 11, the total GMV was RMB 498.2 billion (US$ 74.10 billion). During this 11-day shopping ‘season’, over 450 brands have surpassed RMB 100 million in GMV. Last year, Alibaba generated RMB 268.4 billion (US$38.4 billion) of GMV, but that was only the 24 hour event, and not 11 days like this year. Below you can see this statistics, but bear in mind that 2020 GMV is not comparable to the previous year.

Alibaba’s GMV (RMB) on Singles Day from 2011 to 2020. Source: Statista

To get an overview of the overall size of Singles Day in China, across all marketplaces, lets look at the gross merchandise value on online marketplaces (not just Alibaba) from 2010 to 2019. In 2018, the total GMV across marketplaces was 395,3 billion RMB (about 60 billion USD). The estimate for 2019 was 600 billion RMB (about 90 billion USD).

GMV (in USD) across online marketplaces for Singles Day. Source:

MAINDrivers’ of this years Singles Day

There has been a steady sales growth every year, and Singles Day has even started to gain traction globally. Here are some of the main drivers for this years double 11 (Singles Day):

Revenge Spending has contributed to higher sales this year, which means consumers are overcompensating by spending more than usual due to the lockdown and travel restrictions. Consumers have been in lock down and saved money. As society has been opening up, the “revenge spending” has emerged, a trend where consumers overspend.

Cross Border e-commerce has been a driver of this years singles day. More Chinese consumers are going online to purchase foreign goods as the travel restrictions are still ongoing.

Livestreaming has accelerated this year, where brands broadcast in real time, showcasing products while explaining the product specs, material, origin etc. Many brands leverage the power of influencers/KOL’s, engaging with millions of followers. The two most popular KOL’s in China are Austin Li and Viya. They often attract millions of consumers to watch their livestream.

Introducing new products during Singles Day have also proven to be a good tactic in order to drive sales and increase the urgency to buy. Chinese consumers are curious and enjoy new arrivals. Fast Fashion retailers, such as Miniso, have proven success by having a quick inventory turnover, offering a limited assortment to entice customers to buy.

Singles Day 2020 has once again proved to be the worlds largest shopping event, and brands are preparing for this event several months in advance. Global brands will look to increase their sales in the future events. The pandemics will forever change the way we shop and will continue to reshape the global retail landscape.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: