Black Friday doing well for you? You should try Singles Day


Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, which marks the start of the Christmas shopping season. So — Europeans, Asians, Latin Americans, Africans, Australasians and Antarcticans — how was your Thanksgiving meal this year? No, us neither. And, truth be told, ten years ago we — like most people outside the States — had, at best, only a vague idea what Black Friday was. And yet this year, on Black Friday Germans are expected to spend $239 million on pre-Christmas deals and Britons $399 million [1].

It’s a testament to human adaptability that Black Friday has taken off so quickly outside the USA. Or perhaps it’s just a testament to how much people everywhere love to shop. Whatever it is, it’s big money and that means it’s now firmly a part of most merchants’ marketing calendar. So why, outside Asia, aren’t merchants and other e-commerce players getting serious about Singles Day? If you’re thinking, “because it’s a Chinese thing”, you’re behind the times. Celebrated each year on 11 November, Singles Day has for years been the biggest shopping day in China.

But now it’s also spreading to other countries in Asia. In 2017, Singaporean e-commerce revenue on Singles Day increased by 74% [2]. Sales in Vietnam increased by 238% [3]. Across Southeast Asia as a whole, sales volumes rose in 2017 by 191% [4].

Results for Singles Day 2018, going by the data coming in, look even more eye-popping. Across all online merchants, consumers spent a massive $31 billion in just one day [5]. And as in 2017, there’s every indication that the day is both huge in China and taking off in other countries too. Among Filipino young people, for instance, Singles Day sales in 2018 rose by an incredible 1,022% [6]. All of this begs the question: why aren’t more online retailers outside China getting on board with Singles Day? It’s particularly puzzling when you consider that Singles Day is already far, far bigger than the longer-established Black Friday — and is getting bigger every year.

Consider these facts:

  • In 2017, retailers sold $7.9 billion worth of goods [7]. Not bad. But on Singles Day, retailers shifted $38.2 billion worth of goods [8].
  • On Singles Day, retailers dispatched over a billion packages — in just one day [9]. That’s more parcels than are shipped over the whole US holiday season, Black Friday included [10].
  • In 2017, consumers placed 55% of Black Friday orders with Amazon [11]. On Singles Day, the top 17 participating merchants alone made more than $1.7 billion between them [12].
  • The volume of sales on Black Friday is growing annually rate a rate of 16.9% [13]. For Singles Day, that figure is 27% [14].

For merchants looking to grow their sales volumes and gain traction with consumers in new markets, particularly in Asia, Singles Day is an opportunity too good to miss. China alone is a massive market. And now the day is gaining traction around the world (everyone loves a bargain).

So next year, along with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, don’t forget to add Singles Day to your marketing calendar.


1. Sarah Feldman. “Where Will Consumers Spend the Most on Black Friday?”, 20 November 2018, Statista.

2. Janice Lim. “Singles’ Day sales in S’pore doubled from a year before: ShopBack’s data”, 12 November 2018, Today Online.

3. Interest in Singles’ Day sales skyrockets in VN, 12 November 2018, Viet Nam News.

4. Uptin Saiidi. “Singles Day is not just for China anymore”, 13 November 2017, CBNBC.

5. Raymond Zhong. “Alibaba’s Singles Day Sales Top $30 Billion. The Party May Not Last”, 11 November 2018, The New York Times.

6. “Singles’ Day gains traction in Philippines”, 3 November 2018, Manilla Standard.

7. “Holiday retailers are surging as online spending hits a record”, 27 November 2017, Joe Ciolli, Business Insider.

8. “Singles Day sales reach $38.2b across Chinese ecommerce platforms”, 12 November 2017, Cytus Lee, ZDNet.

9. Colin Lewis. “Think Black Friday is big? It’s nothing compared to China’s Singles’ Day”, 20 November 2018, Marketing Week.

10. Holly Shively. “Major bump in online shopping could lead to holiday shipping delays”, 19 November 2018, Seattle Times.

11. Dan O’Shea. “Amazon devoured 55% of Black Friday online orders”, 27 November 2017, Retail Dive.

12. Jon Russell. “Alibaba smashes its Single’s Day record once again as sales cross $25 billion”, 11 November 2017, Tech Crunch.

13. Ingrid Lunden. “Black Friday racks up $5.03B in online sales, $2B on mobile alone”, 24 November 2017, Tech Crunch .

14. Nicole Kobie. “How China’s Singles Day exploded and totally dwarfs Black Friday”, 13 November 2018, Wired.