With the Christmas period fast approaching, UK advertisers are eagerly anticipating the largest trading period in the UK retail calendar – Black Friday. While this event was worth £810m to retailers last year and has been widely predicted to outperform that this year, there is an event that dwarfs this that many UK retailers may not even be aware of – Singles Day.

Singles Day is China’s (and the worlds) largest one day shopping event. It was set up as a day for people who are single and is celebrated on November 11th (11/11) – with the ‘1’s’ in this date set to represent these singles. It has been promoted as a time when consumers treat themselves and splash out on purchasing for themselves. This year saw Singles Day break all previous records, with China’s largest e-commerce retailer, Alibaba generating £9.4bn worth of sales. This was up 60% on what they saw last year. 

So has this benefitted retailers from the UK and have we seen this become a fixture within the retail calendar? Looking across Affiliate Window’s data for the period, it has been possible to look at the transactions generated from China. It is clear to see that Singles Day has grown across the network each year and the chart below plots sales throughout the day for the 11th November 2013, 2014 and 2015. We have seen similar trends throughout the day with sales really picking up at around 10am and remaining fairly steady throughout the day.

In terms of actual growth, the figures across the network were impressive. The table below considers the growth from 2014 vs 2015 in terms of sales, sales value and commission.

Each metric indicates there has been considerable year on year growth. Could this just be down to more transactions being generated from China generally though? Looking at a period before Singles Day, we are able to see that this growth has been fuelled by Singles Day. The chart below plots Singles Day vs. the week before. Sales were up 128% while sales values were up 116%.

A metric that is perhaps even more indicative of the growth of Singles Day across the network is the share of sales that originated from China. Back in 2014, 0.78% of sales across the network were generated in China while in 2015 this had increased to 1.32%. In the period we looked at pre Singles Day 2015 just 0.55% of that days transactions were generated in China. 

In terms of sales revenue generated across the network, China was the third largest on Singles Day – behind only the UK and US. Typically we see China as the sixth largest sales driving territory across the network.

When looking at sectors it is evident that Health and Beauty is the key driver of sales in China with almost 90% of sales being generated within the sector. With cosmetics such a big sector within China and numerous style trends, the Chinese are spending significant amounts on quality products. Away from health and beauty, clothing and accessories are also popular categories to shop within. 

The number of advertisers benefitting from Singles day has also increased. Back in 2013 we saw sales across 38 advertisers. In 2014 this had increased to 49 while this year it was 59 advertisers generating sales. Looking at the previous week, 46 advertisers generated a sale. 

With Singles Day being the largest trading day in the world, there is certainly an opportunity for UK based retailers who offer delivery to China to take advantage. As well as focusing on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Singles Day could become another fixture within the retail calendar for UK advertisers to take advantage of.