Today, A Single Company Will Dwarf Every Other Major Global Online Sale Event, Including America's Black Friday

Alibaba is gearing up for Tuesday, the world’s biggest online shopping day of the year.

Called Singles’ Day, the anti-Valentine’s Day holiday emerged in China two decades ago as a time for bachelors and bachelorettes to celebrate the single life.

Since then, Alibaba — China’s biggest e-commerce company — has turned it into the biggest 24-hour cyberspending blitz in the world by offering deep discounts on everything from cars to clothes.

Sales on Singles’ Day last year for Alibaba totaled $US5.8 billion, up from $US3.1 billion the previous year. By comparison, American consumers spent a total of $US2.9 billion last year on Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined, the biggest online sales days in the US.

(Australia’s online shopping spend in the entire year to August 2014 was $15.6 billion, or $US13.4 billion. So today, Alibaba could do half of that entire turnover in 24 hours.)

Alibaba’s Singles’ Day sales this year are expected to reach more than $US8 billion, CNBC reports.

Here’s a look at how much sales have grown for Alibaba’s two e-commerce sites, Tmall and Taobao Marketplace, on Singles’ Day over the years, according to TechInAsia.

Last year, the websites were offering 50% discounts on items like boyfriend body pillows and hoodies that read “I am single because I am fat.” Bargain hunters could also find deep discounts on crystal chandeliers, French wines, and even BMWs.

The holiday hasn’t always been about shopping. Five years ago, only about two dozen companies were offering discounts on Singles’ Day, also known as “Double 11.”

Alibaba entered the game in 2009, and within three years, Singles’ Day had become the biggest 24-hour shopping event in the world.

American retailers planning to participate in this year’s sales include Tesla and the apparel company Zara, according to Businessweek.

Singles DayReutersEmployees sort packages at a hub of an express delivery company in Nantong, Jiangsu province, following Singles Day in 2012.

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