On Shopping and Loneliness
In the Western world, the typical image of chronic singledom may conjure up various thoughts that can verge on the slightly depressing, including the ownership of several cats, solitary nights spent hunched over in front of one’s laptop while scouring dating sites for potential mates, and the bitter emotions felt when skipping over the “plus one” tick box on those suspiciously frequent wedding invitations. In China, however, things look a little less bleak for the unattached, and the term “retail therapy” has never been more applicable. November 11th has unofficially become the country’s Singles’ Day, a day during which those without significant others either celebrate their statuses by singing their lonely hearts out at KTV, confess their feelings to another in hopes of some sort of reciprocation, or wallow in self-pity while somewhat shamelessly indulging themselves in carbohydrate-centric treats. Whatever the case may be, these people, along with China’s non-single population, can partake in the biggest retail sales day of the year, commonly known as “Double Eleven” or “Eleven Eleven.” All the major retailers in China boast incredible price cuts (typically 50% or more) during that 24-hour period, and the Chinese, widely known as a bargain-loving people, certainly know how to take advantage of such a situation. Many prepare far in advance, ruthlessly filling their online shopping carts with their desired items and waiting eagerly in front of their computers during the last few minutes of November 10th so they can simply check out their orders at the click of a button when the clock finally strikes twelve. In 2009, the masterminds behind the Alibaba group, China’s biggest e-commerce company, which is comprised of Tmall and Taobao, were the first to capitalize on Singles’ Day. In 2012, the company reported staggering revenues of $3.3 billion on Singles’ Day alone, with an expected increase to at least $4.9 billion this year. What started out as a joke on university campuses has now become the most massive shopping day of the year, with roughly half of China’s 591 million Internet users hungrily satisfying their need for discounted goods. The shopping holiday, however, is not without its faults. The day presents a logistic nightmare for courier firms, as deliveries need to be made round the clock in order to fulfill Chinese expectations for extremely timely arrival of products. Items also frequently sell out, and consumers have also noticed unscrupulous behavior of sellers, some of whom secretly increase the prices of their goods before discounting them. In general, however, it’s probably worth it to brave the turbulent waters of Double Eleven if you’re looking for amazing deals. So whether you’re shopping to fill a void in your heart or just want to finally be able to buy a pair of those expensive headphones you’ve been eyeing, Double Eleven sales will be happening in full force, and I’m sure the e-commerce companies would love for you all to take part.
Source: ForeignPolicy.com Blog