RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
Yesterday, Veterans Day in the U.S., had a different meaning in China. There, Tuesday was Singles' Day.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
That Day has become China's biggest shopping event thanks to Alibaba, the world's biggest online shopping company. We have in-depth coverage this morning from NPR's Laura Sullivan.
LAURA SULLIVAN, BYLINE: Singles' Day was started by Chinese university students in the 1990s to celebrate being unattached. Hence, November 11, 1-1, 1-1, a day for singles to go out, go to parties, go to bars with none of that Valentine's Day, couples walking on a beach, diamond ring commercial schmultz. At least that's what it was. Now it's the biggest commercial holiday on the planet thanks to Alibaba's chairman, Jack Ma, who has promoted it as a day to buy your single self something special - on sale.
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UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Ready? And... Spend.
UNIDENTIFIED SHOPPERS: (Oohing and aahing).
SULLIVAN: Chinese watched on state television as shoppers spent a billion dollars in the first 20 minutes. By the end of the day, they had spent more than $9 billion. That's almost three times what Americans put down on Black Friday and Cyber Monday last year. Some American retailers, like Calvin Klein and Estee Lauder, offered a few deals here in the states. But marketing professor Alexander Chernev at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management says it's not likely to catch on to that extent here.
ALEXANDER CHERNEV: And this whole shopping experience is fairly new to the average Chinese consumer, whereas, in the United States, it has existed for many decades.
SULLIVAN: Chernev says November 11 is too close to Americans' well-established shopping season. And, of course, it is also Veterans Day, where lots of things are already on sale. Laura Sullivan, NPR News.
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