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Why China's Singles Day Won't Become an American Shopping Holiday

Vendors prepare discounted stock ahead of Single's Day, in Wenzhou, China, on Nov. 5, 2014
Vendors prepare discounted stock ahead of Single's Day, in Wenzhou, China, on Nov. 5, 2014Photograph by ChinaFotoPress

China’s bachelors and bachelorettes are spending Tuesday with Alibaba. Nov. 11 is known in China as Singles Day, an annual event for which online retailers slash prices, and China’s eligible shoppers treat themselves to discounted goodies. Popularized by Alibaba in 2009, Singles Day has become wildly popular. Alibaba watchers have speculated that the company will easily top last year’s record $5.7 billion (35 billion yuan) in sales.

All those billions will be spent without any meaningful contribution from Americans. “When you hear the biggest online shopping day in the world is Singles Day, you think, ‘That must be coming to the U.S., then,’” says David Rogers, a branding expert who teaches digital marketing strategy at Columbia Business School. “Certainly you couldn’t have the biggest thing out there without the U.S. involved—but that’s actually already the case.”