November 20, 2017
As the holiday season approaches, so does the time for our annual shopping binge. Whether we are big online shoppers, or prefer traditional brick and mortar stores, there is no denying that we spend a lot more money during the last six weeks of the calendar year.
Black Friday is the official kickoff of the holiday buying season in the United States. From that day through the end of the year, retailers generate somewhere between 30-40% of their annual revenue. Moreover, according to the National Retail Federation, over 136 million Americans are expected to shop during this Thanksgiving weekend alone. The days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday capture 20% of all holiday online shopping.
Given such large figures it is tempting to conclude that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the world’s biggest shopping days of the year. Such a conclusion would be wrong. The award for the biggest one day spending splurge each year is now firmly in the hands of the Chinese.
You might have heard of “Singles Day” in China. This day is celebrated annually on November 11th. The “tradition” was started as recently as the 1990s as an anti-Valentine’s day for bachelor university students. From such bizarre beginnings, Singles Day has morphed into a shopping extravaganza, with the considerable help of Alibaba, China’s equivalent of Amazon. To put the numbers in context, the 2017 Singles Day sales for Alibaba alone were $25.4 billion. This compares with combined Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in 2016 of $6.79 billion.
What makes Singles Day for consumers so special? Well, it is not just about the 140,000 brands and 15 million products offered, it is also the enjoyment of the entertainment provided. Shoppers can use interactive apps to download raffle tickets, coupons, and gift certificates, and watch “See Now, Buy Now” fashion shows. This year’s festival included a star-studded gala with Nicole Kidman and Pharrell Williams. All this takes place in order to increase the excitement and expectation for the sales to begin. Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group Holdings, has expressed his desire to take the event to even greater heights, including the possibility of expanding the gala beyond China’s borders. Singles Day is being re-branded as 11.11 Global Shopping Day, and looks set to remain comfortably the biggest shopping day on Earth.
The rapid growth of Singles Day is further proof of two clear trends relating to China. First, the continued rise of the Chinese economy. At current rates of growth, China’s economy will overtake that of the US in size by 2028. Second, China has developed a generation of consumers with views more associated with people in market based economies than in a country run by a communist party.
With all this talk of consumerism I must remind myself that the time we get to spend with our loved ones is far more important than anything money can buy. From our small NHCO family to yours, have a wonderful and blissful Thanksgiving.