Cyber Monday Has Nothing on Singles Day

Looking at the History and Origin of Cyber Monday Compared to Singles Day

By Niclas Hulting

Thanksgiving is upon us, and we have many thanks to give. One way we were able to give back was through our #GreatBritton #ThanksGiveAway contest.

But Thanksgiving brings more than turkeys and families together. It brings shoppers together, as Thanksgiving has become a time of shopping. Frenzied holiday shopping.

We’re all aware of Black Friday and what it brings, but all of us do not have the 411 on Cyber Monday. Yet.

Once again, the Chinese have beaten us. All this time we figured that at least shopping (excess) could be our No. 1.

And when we want to know something, we usually start at the beginning.

Let’s jump in on the origin of the word “cyber,” take a quick look at Cyber Mondays past, and compare China’s “Singles Day” to our Cyber Monday. Then I’ll share our favorite Cyber Monday deals, apps, resources and websites so you can gain the inside track on your online shopping.

Sound good?

Let’s do it. Let’s delve into the depths of the history of this 100 percent fabricated “holiday” by starting to look at the evolution of the word “cyber.”

The term has its origin back in 1940, when mathematician and author Norbert Weiner released the book Cybernetics. When you hear the word today, there are probably only a couple of things that come to mind (depending on when you were born).

What about 20 years ago? How about 40? Well, some of these variations have been popular in the past:

  • Cybernetics
  • Cyberpunk
  • Cyberspace
  • Cybersex
  • Cybercrime
  • Cybersecurity
  • Cyberwar
  • Cyberbullying

The point I’m trying to make is that if you had asked the same question 20 years ago, the answer would have been different. The same with 40 years ago. Cyber has changed, and its use is in somewhat of a state of decline. It’s half past obsolete. It’s not needed anymore. The term has devolved. It’s been replaced. It’s not fashionable.

By using Google’s Ngram Viewer (which is a really sweet way to track words and trends over time), we can see the term “cyber” (“cyber,” “Cyber” and “CYBER”) rose to popularity in the late ’70s and then had a lull until the late ’90s, when “cyber” more or less went mainstream.


Fast-forward to Nov. 28, 2005. The term “Cyber Monday” was coined by marketers in the e-commerce industry. It was a fabricated event that was promoted to market and increase online sales. By its second year, Cyber Monday sales were reportedly in excess of $600 million, and sales have increased every year since. In 2014, Cyber Monday sales are expected to exceed $2.6 billion.

Cyber Monday Sales Numbers from Wikipedia

So Cyber Monday is a pretty big deal, and because of the frenzied promotion from retail marketers, you would think that it is the biggest (online shopping) day of the year. You would be wrong.

Once again, the Chinese have beaten us. All this time we figured that at least shopping (excess) could be our No. 1. You know, the one thing that we couldown in the world. Something that we could boisterously chant about.

Sadly this is not true.

Enter China’s “Singles Day,” a day that sounds like it could be based on loneliness and self-rewarding. But that’s not an accurate portrayal. Singles Day isn’t a fabricated holiday created by “Big Shopping” (like its Western cousins, Black Friday and Cyber Monday).

It dates back to university life in China, in the early ’90s, where it got started as Bachelor Day. It was initially a day for partying and meeting friends, and was a play on the plight of single people on the date of 11/11 (lots of ones). As the university crowd grew older, the day changed into Singles Day, a day that is now rooted in karaoke, blind dates and online shopping. How much shopping?

Well, Nov. 11, 2014, had more than $9 billion in sales. Remember when I told you that Cyber Monday sales numbers have been increasing year after year? Well, if you add each year’s sales numbers, from inception in 2005 to 2013, you still won’t be able to match this year’s Singles Day. Whoa.

Another noteworthy aspect of Singles Day is the fact that reported mobile sales numbers for the day hovered above 42 percent. And according to mobile commerce giant Alibaba, its overall mobile sales for the year is projected to land between 45 and 50 percent. Compare this to Amazon’s paltry 5 to 8 percent in mobile sales (for 2013) and we can see why Alibaba is now the No. 1 e-commerce service in the world.

The world is going mobile, and those who embrace the mobile customer is arguably going to be positioned better than those who do not.

Cyber Monday Resources

We have scoured the World Wide Web in order to get you the actual best deals and resources for a successful Cyber Monday shopping experience. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Smoopa — App that pulls deals from multiple stores together for comparison.
  • PriceJump — Finds you the lowest prices online, in-store or on Amazon.
  • PriceGrabber— Store and price comparison.
  • GiftIt — Gift lists for everyone!
  • The Find — Your personal search engine for shopping.
  • — Real-time notifications for products of interest.
  •— By, this could be a good starting point for deal scouring. That is if you’re into the whole circa 1998 desktop user experience.
  • Honey — Automatic coupon codes at checkout.

Have a great and prosperous Cyber Monday. And remember, if you don’t find your dream deal right now, just wait until after Christmas. The post-Christmas deals are usually comparable to Black Friday (excluding door-busters) and Cyber Monday.

Niclas Hulting
Social Media and Content Strategist

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Photos: Shutterstock, Google Ngram Viewer and Wikipedia

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