12th November 2021

11.11. Shopping Festival 2021


The 11.11 shopping festival in China (otherwise known as ‘Singles Day’ or ‘Double 11’) took place this week and e-commerce giants Alibaba and JD.com reported record sales again this year. However, growth is slowing due to a slower economy and tighter regulatory scrutiny.

Details and Implications:

Although it was born in China,11.11 is the world’s largest shopping event and sales each year surpass those of Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. Whilst most of the shopping happens in China, it has expanded into other countries such as the USA, with many big brands taking part, especially where there are large Chinese populations outside China. Like last year, the festival ran over two shopping windows, the first from 1st – 3rd November and the second on 11th November, rather than just one 24-hour window on the 11th.

This year the shopping festival has taken a more low-key approach with the internet giants shifting focus towards sustainable development and inclusiveness for the first time in support of government initiatives to boost social equality or reduce carbon emissions and as consumers are demanding more from brands. For example, Alibaba focused on ‘sustainable growth’ and replaced its public running tally of sales with a three-hour livestream to help raise 1 million RMB for a 200-acre elephant reserve. Its Tmall platform had a dedicated vertical for eco-friendly brands and 100 million RMB worth of green shopping vouchers were to be given away. It also introduced a ‘senior mode’ option in its Taobao app to be more accessible for the elderly. JD.com announced this year’s Singles Day would use more renewable energy than ever before and that it would push for a reduced carbon footprint.

Despite holding back on some of the more aggressive marketing and hyperbole of the past, this year still brought together around 900 million Chinese consumers and 290,000 brands and there were still record sales.

In the first shopping window on Alibaba’s Tmall, 2,600 brands’ GMV (Gross Merchandise Value) surpassed last year’s 1st November sales in an hour and by the end of the festival the platform’s total GMV reached a new high of 540.3 billion RMB, an 8% YoY growth rate and over 29,000 overseas brands participated this year too. The combined GMV of top live streamers Austin Li and Viya was over 20 billion RMB. Tmall provided new functions for consumers this year, lowering the threshold of add-on items and also launching a sharing shopping cart with one click and setting up an exclusive venue for the elderly.

JD’s total GMV reached 349.1 billion RMB and the sales of 31 brands exceeded 1 billion RMB with Apple’s sales exceeding 10 billion RMB. Over 50 million consumers chose to buy home appliances on JD and 265 beauty brands’ total GMV on JD have grown over 1000% compared with last year. JD aimed to create the best shopping experience for consumers this year with more products, better prices and better service.


2021 was another ground-breaking year for the world’s largest annual shopping event but growth has slowed compared with previous years. There has been a change in tone however. Beyond focusing on sales figures, China’s internet giants have turned their focus for the first time towards sustainable development and inclusiveness, launching a range of new initiatives including ‘green vouchers’ to buy sustainable products, packaging recycling and support functions for vulnerable populations, including the Silver Generation, demonstrating a new desire for future Good Growth.

Further Reading:

GroupM Commerce Overview | CNN |

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