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  or those who just love to shop online, now is the best time of the year, because Nov 11, China’s Singles’ Day, will see some seemingly irrational discounts, in line with the tradition that was started in 2010.


  Last year, Taobao, a major online shopping website, set a record of 1 billion yuan in sales on that day alone, with a whopping 19.1 billion yuan exchanging hands on the website. The number of items sold paralyzed the delivery services due to overloading. On the verge of yet another annual spending spree, it’s worth reading up on tricks and tips to make the most of the shopping carnival.


  Be prepared


  Select goods early and rationally


  Put everything you want in the “shopping cart” to make a list of potential purchases. Then go through it carefully, removing anything you selected on impulse.


  Seal a deal in advance


  Talk to service staff as early as possible. They may have already decided on a discount policy for Nov 11 and may even ship the product to you in advance, which is a good way to avoid the heavy online traffic on the special day.


  Manage your budget


  Popular items will be in strong demand, so make sure you’re ready to pay with the least number of procedures. It’s best to deposit a reasonable amount of money in your Alipay account so that you can pay without going through any lengthy verifications. If you’re planning on using a credit card, you can call the bank to apply for more credit, but only spend as much as you can afford to repay.


  Look at the real items


  With many products, such as shoes and clothes, it’s better to look at them first to check their quality, size and appearance and ensure you’re buying the right one.


  Be smart


  It’s all about timing


  According to Alipay, there are several peak hours when online traffic is heavy and there is a higher risk of failed transactions. Try to avoid the following time spans: 12 pm-1:30 am, 10-11 am, 3-5 pm, and 8-10 pm.


  Apps as a helping hand


  Smartphone apps like Huihui Shopping list the best offers on a particular website, while Yitao, a software developed by Alibaba, compares prices of selected items across different websites to bring you the best deal.


  Track and open your package


  Because of the huge demand, delivery mistakes are inevitable, so try to track the package. If the product is perishable, keep the tracking record in case of a dispute. When the package arrives, check the item carefully before signing for it. Now you can go ahead and enjoy all your new stuff!



  In the United States, the lonely have Reddit and cats. In China, they have Singles' Day, which falls on Nov. 11 -- 11.11, the four ones symbolizing "bare branches," Chinese slang for bachelors. Thought to have originated about 20 years ago as a joke on college campuses, Singles' Day was once an occasion for confessing one's feelings to that special someone. But since 2010, online retailers have transformed the holiday, also known as "Double 11," into an epic online shopping extravaganza akin to America's Cyber Monday.


  China has 271 million online consumers, meaning that almost half of China's 591 million Internet users buy products online. E-commerce sites Taobao and Tmall, which saw a combined $$1 trillion in sales in 2012, will both be running promotional campaigns during China's Singles' Day. Among the offers: 50 percent discounts on products like boyfriend body pillows and hoodies that read "I am single because I am fat." Amazon。cndeclared that the site would sell "20,000 products discounted by as much as 90 percent." That includes a wedding ring, which singles can presumably buy, just in case.


  Jack Ma, founder of Internet giant Alibaba, told Chinese Premier Li Keqiang late last month that Alibaba's sales on Singles' Day 2012 were "nearly $$3.3 billion" -- more than double the roughly $$1.5 billion purchased on Cyber Monday in 2012. For Singles' Day 2013, Ma expects sales to exceed $$4.9 billion.


  The rise of singletons as a consumer group is not without its own costs. Chinese business magazine Caijing reported that big delivery companies were forced to scramble to find over 100 extra airplanes to handle the 323 million parcels they needed to deliver over the Singles' Day shopping period.


  The holiday strains the logistics system: Products frequently sell out or arrive late. Even when everything moves smoothly, consumers complain about commercial gimmicks. According to the Beijing Evening News, a popular local paper, some online retailers quietly raise prices before slashing them.


  But Chinese have not forgotten about the true meaning of this holiday: hating singlehood. Singles' Day is an occasion on which Chinese confess their feelings and try to find significant others. On Nov. 7, with four days to go before the holiday, the top trending topic on Weibo, China's Twitter, was "Help Your Roommate Find Someone." Over 200,000 people participated in the discussion, posting pictures of their roommates (and sometimes themselves) in hopes of avoiding another lonely Singles' Day.


  Chinese are no strangers to loneliness: There are tens of millions of men in China who may never find love due to the country's massive gender imbalance, a result of the One Child Policy and a longstanding preference for male children. Chinese women don't have it easy either: Those who remain unmarried at the ripe old age of 27 risk being labeled "leftover women".


  Although poverty and singledom are often linked outcomes in China, at least one web user was sure of which was worse. "Spending Singles' Day alone isn't that scary," he wrote. "What's scary is when you're so poor you can't even enjoy Taobao's ‘Double 11.'" Retail therapy indeed.








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