Chinese Shoppers Set Record For 'Singles Day' Shopping Spree : The Two-Way A day meant to celebrate being single has turned in to the world's largest shopping event. But it's unlikely to catch on in the U.S.

Chinese Shoppers Set Record For 'Singles Day' Shopping Spree

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Yesterday, Veterans Day in the U.S., had a different meaning in China. There, Tuesday was Singles' Day.


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.


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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