The Bulletin

The biggest online shopping day of the year is already over

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Forget Black Friday. The biggest online shopping day in the world isn't in the U.S. It's in China.

And it's already over.

Nov. 11 (or 11/11) is Single's Day in China, a modern-day made-up holiday that celebrates the bachelor life and is popular among young Chinese. The 11.11 holiday has been around since the 1990s. But in 2009, Alibaba Group Holding, the country's largest e-commerce company, began marketing it as a one-day shopping festival. In just five years, sales generated on this day surpass what Americans spend online on Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

Taobao Marketplace and, two main e-commerce platforms owned by Alibaba, topped 35 billion yuan, or $5.75 billion, in the 24-hour period of the holiday, jumping past last year's sales of 19.1 yuan, according to Alizila, the company's corporate news site.

In comparison, last year Cyber Monday sales topped $1.98 billion, according to Adobe Digital Index.

Within the first 55 seconds of the online sale, the amount of gross merchandise value, or GMV, transacted over e-payment provider Alipay hit 100 million yuan ($16.4 million), Alibaba said.

About 21 percent of those orders were placed using mobile devices, up from five percent last year. The company credits the free mobile data provided by Alibaba Group for the spike in mobile sales.

This year's 11.11 sale involved more than 20,000 merchants. And more Western and international brands such as Gap and Uniqlo, are jumping into the online shopping day blitz.

The success of the 11.11 sale is, of course, the perfect pre-IPO showcase for Alibaba, which is expected to file sometime next year. An Alibaba IPO could raise more than $10 billion, analysts have estimated.

Photo of data board showing 11.11 sales transaction value by Alizila/Melanie Lee

— By on November 13, 2013, 7:10 AM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure