HANGZHOU, China — Unmarried men across China used to spend Nov. 11 lamenting their single status with a drink. Now that unofficial holiday has become the world’s largest online shopping event.
On Monday, China’s biggest online shopping company processed more than $5.75 billion in its online payments system — surpassing by 2½ times the total for U.S. retailers last year on so-called Cyber Monday.
The company, Alibaba, which owns Tmall and other e-commerce sites, first latched onto so-called Singles’ Day, symbolized by the four lonely 1s of 11/11, five years ago. The company realized men could just as easily seek solace by buying electronic devices and other gear. The Singles’ Day promotions has spread beyond lonely hearts to Chinese consumers of all kinds.
Alibaba said Monday it had 402 million unique visitors to its sites.
Chinese consumers are expected to spend $290 billion at online retail sites this year, compared with $260 billion for their U.S. counterparts.