A Chinese holiday to celebrate being single has turned into one of the world’s largest online shopping events. Today, millions of unattached Chinese took advantage of online shopping specials tailored for them—travel deals for lone travelers, single-serving rice cookers, boyfriend pillows, and deals on BMWs (helpful for shedding one’s single status). The holiday reflects the growing spending power of young Chinese professionals who are increasingly marrying later or not at all. As we reported, sales passed that of America’s after-Thanksgiving day of shopping deals, Cyber Monday, and reached $5.4 billion by 11pm, according to e-commerce giant Alibaba.
But the day, always on 11/11—the single digits symbolize the “bare branches” of being an unwed Chinese—also reflects a real demographic challenge facing the country. There are between 50 to 60 million bachelors in China who may never find a life partner because of China’s large gender imbalance. As China’s population becomes disproportionately elderly and the work force shrinks, fertility rates are falling.
The holiday was characterized by e-commerce shops and shipping services scrambling to fulfill thousands of orders. Eligible Chinese, as well as their concerned relatives, attended matchmaking events or participated in online campaigns like “Help your roommate find someone,” in which over 200,000 posted photos of themselves or their single roommates.
Employees sort packages for China Post in Wuhan, Hubei province. Logistics are often difficult during and on the days leading up to Single’s Day. Shipments are often delayed because of the crush of orders. (Darley Shen/Reuters)