Singles’ Day is one week away – here’s what you need to know
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Singles’ Day is one week away – here’s what you need to know

November 11 marks the world’s biggest online shopping extravaganza: Singles’ Day. But, unless you’re Chinese (or a long-time investor in Dominion’s Global Trends Ecommerce Fund), you may well have never heard of it. The brainchild of Chinese internet giant Alibaba, Singles’ Day was originally a quirky little alternative to Valentine’s Day for young Chinese singletons. Cooked up a college dorm years ago, it was just a bit of fun encouraging the romantically unattached to buy themselves a present. Now, it’s an ecommerce phenomenon that’s powering online retail.

graph 0511 singles

Alibaba founder and head honcho Jack Ma is the one who chose to match Singles’ Day with a Black Friday-style online shoppathon. This year, he’ll do his final turn at the helm before handing over to protégé Daniel Zhang. It’s a testament to the success he’s had in crafting the holiday that Alibaba’s rivals, such as, Vipshop Holdings, now promote the day and take part as well.

Singles’ Day is more than twice the size of the entire five-day holiday buying spree that starts with Thanksgiving, includes Black Friday, and ends on Cyber Monday. But this year, observers are wondering whether it will live up to former glories.

Weighing over the day’s forecasts like the trade tensions between Washington and Beijing, as well as a depressed Chinese stock market. Whether these factors affect online shopping on the day itself is, unfortunately, anyone’s guess. As a counterpoint to this negative narrative, however, is the fact that Alibaba has worked tirelessly to expand the holiday. This year, the company has significantly boosted the brick-and-mortar side of the holiday with deep investments in malls, convenience stores and more. This is Jack Ma’s “new retail” initiative – and it might be just what’s needed to push Singles’ Day to even greater heights.

Dominion holds Alibaba in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.

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