November 11 marks Singles Day in China, the anti-Valentine’s Day where bachelors and bachelorettes celebrate single life, which today has evolved into the biggest day for online shopping in the country akin to America’s Cyber Monday.

From singles-themed products such as boyfriend body pillows to apparel and wine – online retailers are dishing out hefty discounts to lure the nation’s over 240 million online consumers.

This year, online sales from the holiday are forecast to hit around $5 billion, according to China Market Research Group, 20 percent higher than 2012. This compares to $1.5 billion in sales during Cyber Monday – which falls on the first Monday after Thanksgiving Day – last year, which are expected to touch nearly $2.3 billion this year, according to Adobe.

“Singles Day has become a hugely important day for retailers. The discounting today has been the talk of consumers, from millennials to 40-year-olds. Aside from Chinese New Year, this is becoming one of the key days for retails to launch promotions,” Shaun Rein, Shanghai-based managing director of China Market Research Group, told CNBC.

“Above and beyond singles, everyone knows that it is a day of great deals. Chinese youth are getting more frustrated because of rising real estate costs so they are shifting to purchases that make themselves happy,” he added.

Chinese are more excited about e-commerce as they can buy products that are not sold in brick and mortar stores near their homes, said Rein. The profile of an average online shopper is a young, middle-class consumer living in a tier-two or tier-three city, who often lack a wide variety of retail choices.

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Some facts about Singles Day:

Why 11/11?
The holiday is held every year on November 11 because the date consists of four singles: 11/11. The holiday is known in Chinese as “Guanggun Jie,”  which refers to “bare sticks” — slang for bachelors.

Aside from shopping and gift-giving, the quirky, symbolic holiday has plenty of fun traditions.

  • Ms. Independent: Many singles go to dinner with a group friends. Each person pays for themselves to represent their independence.
  • Single and ready to mingle? Young people, websites and companies often hold “blind date” parties, singles come together in hopes of coupling up. In 2011, the city of Shanghai organized one of the biggest blind dates ever, attracting 10,000 singles.

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