Giant sticks are set up in Shenyang to mark Bachelors' Day, known in Chinese as "Guanggun Jie" (literally "bare stick day"). (Photo/CNS)
While Nov. 11 is celebrated as Veterans Day in the United States, China has designated the date "Guanggun Jie," or "Bachelors' Day," thanks to the business promotions by e-commerce operators trying to drum up demand.
E-commerce operators in China are cashing in on the country's expanding population of bachelors to promote sales targeting single men. Online shops have started building up their inventories since the early part of this year, gearing up for the "Bachelors' Day of the century" — adding insult to injury, this year will see the alignment of six "1s," the 11th day of the 11th month of 2011.
Leading online shopping malls like 360buy, Dangdang, Taobao and Paipai will all be offering tens of millions of products at 50% discounts. Twenty-four new vehicles will also be auctioned off beginning at half price, reported the Beijing Morning Post newspaper. Taobao has been preparing its 11/11/11 sales campaign for months, saying that all items eligible for special price discounts will carry a "11" mark.
Rakuten China, a new online mall and joint venture between Baidu and Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten Group, has joined hands with suppliers of several thousand of branded products with prices starting from just one yuan (about US$0.16). Discounts of 40% are offered for handsets, clothes, electrical appliances and other consumer electronics.
Online malls have given instructions to all stores and logistics companies to give top priority to the delivery of products purchased on Bachelors' Day.
Some online suppliers say they were unaware of Bachelors' Day just a few years ago, but have prepared huge stocks for the month of November well in advance this time after experiencing brisk sales last year.
One explanation for the holiday's popularity is that young bachelors are restrained by the gender imbalance that has resulted from China's decades-long one-child policy, and tend to make online purchases as a way of making up for their loneliness.
Most retailers with brick-and-mortar shops have not joined the promotion campaigns targeted at bachelors, calling them a sales gimmick. Still, these retailers are not sitting idly by, as they have been busy with preparations for the upcoming holiday season.
The Chinese term "guanggun" literally means "bare stick(s)." The "stick" refers to the Arabic numeral "1," meaning "single." The term has been used in Taiwan and mainland China to describe eligible but unmarried men, though single men in Taiwan do not have the luxury of being given their own day of observance.
Ma Weihua, the head of China Merchants Bank, was born in 1949 and has a PhD in economics from Jilin University. Ma served as deputy chief and later the deputy party secretary of the State ...