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Single’s Day for Shopping Takes China

The holiday, which falls on Nov. 11 annually, is quickly becoming the biggest day for online shopping on the mainland.

SHANGHAI — Single’s Day started as a holiday to honor Chinese who are not married or otherwise do not have a partner. However, the holiday, which falls on Nov. 11 annually, is quickly becoming the biggest day for online shopping on the mainland as millions of consumers turn to the Internet to take advantage of deep discounts and other promotions offered by e-commerce players.

Chinese Internet giant Alibaba, which operates Tmall.com and Taobao.com, said sales on its e-commerce platforms on Single’s Day, which fell on Sunday this year, totaled $3.1 billion, more than triple the sales figure from last year. That number well outpaced the $1.25 billion that, according to research company comScore, Americans spent last year on Cyber Monday.

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Sales on Tmall.com, the company’s business-to-consumer platform that is home to a number of Chinese and international brands, totaled 13.2 billion yuan, or $2.1 billion, while the consumer-to-consumer site Taobao.com generated revenues of 5.9 billion yuan, about $947 million. Ten million people logged onto Alibaba’s e-commerce sites within the first minute of the start of the promotions, which began at midnight Sunday, the company said.

According to a spokeswoman for Alibaba, nearly 10,000 brands participated in the Single’s Day shopping festival, including Nike, Adidas, Uniqlo, Gap and Forever 21. Jack & Jones, a vintage clothing brand, had sales of more than 100 million yuan, about $16 million, the spokeswoman said. “This is definitely beyond our expectations,” she said. “It says that Chinese consumers are using e-commerce as one of their primary ways to get access to a lot of products.”

The spokeswoman said Single’s Day has become a “shopping carnival,” with not only singletons but also parents and grandparents taking part in the buying frenzy.

Other Chinese B2C e-commerce players, including VIPshop, which sells discounted apparel and accessories from around 2,000 brands, and Yintai, an e-commerce site specializing in luxury goods, took part in the shopping festival via storefronts they have opened on Tmall.com.

Yoox Group, which launched a Chinese version of its Yoox.com luxury e-commerce site last month in China, held a “Single’s Day Happy Shopping Weekend” promotion on that site, which began on Nov. 8 and offered consumers discounts of up to 50 percent. A Yoox spokeswoman said the company could not release revenues for the holiday but that “sales went very well.”

“There was an obvious growth compared to other weekend sales,” she said.

The site 51buy.com, which is owned by Internet company Tencent Holdings Ltd., had sales of more than 120 million yuan ($19.2 million) on Sunday, more than 10 times the amount from last year, the state-run China Daily newspaper reported. The newspaper said revenues from Single’s Day were equal to three-weeks-worth of retail sales in Hong Kong.