Singles’ Day 2020: What Does It Mean?

Updated: Oct 29


Forbes | October 27, 2020


Singles’ Day in China (November 11) is the number one shopping day in the world. In 2019, Singles’ Day on Alibaba reached $38 billion, just over ten times the $3.5 billion Amazon reached in the U.S. on Prime Day this year. But will there be Covid-related developments or other twists?


Covid and global economic turmoil means some downward pressure on brands. Some of the companies that could be participating are still working through Covid issues and are more tentative about participation. More activity will be virtual, such as the famous television gala. As well as, fewer foreign celebrities and business leaders will be able to join. But, the event promises to be quite a commercial success.


For Single’s Day, Alibaba is boasting the participation of 250,000 brands and 800 million consumers (of which 200 million are Generation Z).


China’s economy has recovered well from Covid-19, with 4.9% GDP growth in the third quarter, up from 3.2% growth in the previous quarter and -6.8% in the first quarter—a nice rebound. E-commerce sales and consumer behavior also seem to have completely rebounded, with cosmetics sales up 19% from a year earlier, and household appliances up 4% in the same period. 


Alibaba is repositioning Single’s Day to be a six-week seasonal sales period. This will place less demand on China’s logistics systems and also give more leeway to merchants and consumers to shop around, experiment, and explore, rather than a frenzied 24-hour spree.

Alibaba also is suggesting overseas brands use China as part of a “global brand recovery.” It all has a certain logic given China’s progress in recovering from the pandemic. Some 2,600 international brands will be new to the platform this year.


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