Being in China has meant that I have missed a lot of American holidays and occasions. Spending these holidays in China has been interesting because they are either not celebrated or celebrated in a different way. However, China has its own set of unique holidays, and since I’ve been here, there have been three national holidays that have been celebrated. One of these holidays happened to have occurred this past weekend on November 11th.
In China, this day is called “双十一”, which when translated means “Double 11” but is commonly referred to as “Singles’ Day”. This holiday is very unique to China, but the closest thing America has to it would be a crossover between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Single’s Day is the single biggest day for shopping in China, and the amount of commerce that occurs within the 24-hour time span of this single day is mind blowing.
The logic behind celebrating this holiday, as it was explained to me, is that on this day everyone who is not in a romantic relationship goes shopping to make themselves feel better by buying material goods. Though this is the stated purpose of the holiday, everyone participates in the holiday by either shopping online or going out to department stores and shops. Almost every single commodity receives a discount on this day, meaning that no matter what store you go to you will save on goods you may or may not normally buy. Therefore, even if you choose not to actively participate in the holiday, you still experience the savings. Who can complain about that!
On Singles’ Day this year, there was an estimated $25.4 billion generated. This is a HUGE profit for one-single day, and only when put in perspective against other statistics can it be fully understood how massive of an earning this is in total, let alone for a single day. For example, the recorded GDP of Iceland in 2017 was about $24 billion. Though not by much, the revenue for Singles’ Day surpasses the economic output of an entire developed nation. For further comparison, in 2016 a combined $6.79 billion was generated on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. With these numbers in mind, it’s easier to grasp the economic impact of Singles Day.
The biggest difference in why this holiday has such a huge impact versus similar holidays across the world is because China’s consumer market is significantly larger than many other nations. If America can generate $6.79 billion over the course of two days with a consumer market of about 330 million people, it would make greater sense that China can make $25.4 billion in one day with a consumer market of 1.4 billion people.
I made sure to take full advantage of being in China for this holiday. I took it as an opportunity to buy the gifts I intended to get for my friends and family, but now I could pay less than I would have to if I bought these later. Now the problem is seeing if I can fit these new things in my suitcase to bring back home with me, but that’s a problem for later. Hopefully there will be more interesting holidays like 双十一that I will get to be a part of before I return home to America. Events like these really accentuate the cultural differences between here and America, but it’s given me a deep appreciation for the diversity of culture that exists beyond America’s borders. Though foreign, it is extremely interesting to learn about and eventually become a part of.