Online shopping holidays: E-commerce spending on Singles Day dwarfs Black Friday, Cyber Monday.

Singles Day 2014 Totally Dwarfed Online Shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Singles Day 2014 Totally Dwarfed Online Shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Moneybox
A blog about business and economics.
Dec. 2 2014 2:37 PM

Singles Day 2014 Totally Dwarfed Online Shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

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Data from ComScore, Adobe, Alibaba

The preliminary estimates are in, and it looks like more than $4 billion was spent online during this year's Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping holidays. That's an increase over the previous year, when e-commerce spending on the two occasions totaled closer to $3.5 billion. But it's still nowhere near the massive sales volume that Alibaba did on Singles Day alone in November.

Singles Day, in case you missed it, is the biggest day in online shopping that you may never have heard of. It began as a kind of anti–Valentine's Day in the 1990s but rebranded as a huge commercial event by China-based e-commerce giant Alibaba in 2009. For this year's Singles Day, Alibaba's various shopping sites did more than $9.3 billion in sales in just 24 hours.

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It's been said for a while that Singles Day is a bigger online shopping holiday than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined, but what this year makes pretty clear is that the gap between Singles Day and the others keeps getting bigger. In 2012, e-commerce sales on Singles Day were about 1.5 times as great as those on Cyber Monday and 2.9 times those on Black Friday. In 2013, online sales volume for Singles Day was 2.5 times as great as Cyber Monday and 4.8 times Black Friday. And this year, based on early data from Adobe and ComScore, e-commerce spending on Alibaba was 3.5 times that of Cyber Monday, and 6.2 times that of Black Friday.

For the weekend as a whole, Thanksgiving-time spending is still a force to be reckoned with. The National Retail Federation predicted total spending for the four-day holiday weekend would hit $50.9 billion. From Thursday through Sunday, an estimated 133.7 million shoppers hit stores. On the other hand, that was down from the 141.1 million who came out in 2013. The overall number of shoppers on Black Friday also fell, the NRF said, and foot traffic on Thanksgiving Day was flat from last year.

The NRF doesn't break out sales numbers for Black Friday alone, so it's tough to compare to the combined e-commerce and in-store spending on that day with the sales totals on Singles Day. But in terms of e-commerce spending alone for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Singles Day, there's a clear winner here. And its already-sizable lead is getting wider every year.

Alison Griswold is a Slate staff writer covering business and economics.