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Today is ‘Singles Day’ – but it’s not what you think

Written by: Emma Lunn
Despite many Brits having never heard of Singles’ Day, the shopping event is predicted to see almost £1.7bn in UK sales alone.

Singles’ Day started as an obscure “anti-Valentine’s” celebration for unattached university students in China in the 1990s. Singles celebrated their solo status by buying themselves gifts on 11 November – a date written as 11.11.

Singles’ Day was adopted by Chinese retail giant Alibaba in 2009, with Singles’ Day sales held on and its retail site Since then, the shopping event has started to gain traction in the UK.

According to, sales this Singles’ Day are expected to rise by 13.4% year-on-year to £1.7bn in the UK, drawing in 7.2 million UK shoppers.

Data from VoucherCodes’ Shopping for Christmas report, shows consumers spent £1.5bn splashing out during last year’s Singles’ Day, up from the £1.3bn spent in 2019.

Although some UK retailers will be offering in-store discounts today, there is more emphasis on online deals, which are expected to account for 57.8% of total sales at £996m. This projection is up 15.2% from last year, despite last November’s lockdown forcing store closures and many retailers’ Singles’ Day promotions to become online-only.

Conversely, forecasts for offline sales show a smaller increase of 10.9% in sales, from £656.1m in 2020 to a predicted £727.5m in 2021.

When asked whether they would be making any purchases this Singles Day, almost three in 10 (28%) Brits said they intended to buy something.

Anita Naik, lifestyle editor at, said: “After such a tough 18 months, it’s great news for the retail industry to see that this year’s Singles’ Day discounts are set to draw in more customers and more sales than ever before in the UK.

“With shortages for this Christmas season already making the news, Singles’ Day is the perfect opportunity to bag an early bargain and get started on your Christmas shopping early to avoid any disappointment.”

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