Black Friday? 黑色星期五


Reader question:

Please explain “Black Friday”, as in this: Will November 11 Singles Day replace Black Friday in America?

My comments:

I find it appropriate to answer this question today because today is Black Friday in Beijing. Well, nobody feels it here because Black Friday is an American thing which actually happens tomorrow Beijing time.

Officially in America, today is Thanksgiving, a major holiday before Christmas. Officially, Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday of November. The following Friday, i.e. tomorrow, American time, is what is known as Black Friday, a holiday that marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.

Black Friday is so called because, first, it occurs on a Friday; second, sellers put so many items on sale that invariably they’ll sell a lot and make a profit and return to being “in black” – in the old days, profit figures were recorded in the accounting book with black ink (whereas losses are recorded with red).

There are other theories as to Black Friday’s origin but for our purpose here, it is enough for you to know that Black Friday is synonymous with the biggest shopping day of the year in America, just as November 11 Singles Day is celebrated as the biggest shopping day in China.

The Singles Day’s history is so short that I have no idea exactly when and how it came to be but what is certain is that sellers do make whopping sales on this day, November 11.

This year, for example, Chinese e-commerce giants Alibaba and have reported more than $60 billion in sales. In comparison, “Adobe Analytics, the retail data tracking service, estimates that the long U.S. holiday shopping weekend this year will generate total retail sales of $29 billion (Singles Day 2019's record sales make Black Friday look like a church bazaar, CBSNews, November 11, 2019).

In other words, Chinese sales will have dwarfed their American counterparts.

I think this is what leads some people to talking about Singles Day replacing Black Friday as the biggest shopping day of the year.

In terms of figures, they have a point. But that’s where the comparison ends, I think.

You know what I think. I don’t believe in talking big and bragging about facts and figures. I believe Americans will continue to enjoy their holiday tradition as fervently as ever.

On the Chinese side, I’m just happy that Chinese single people will have a day to remember and to celebrate in their name.

Being single can be tough, you know. So I think Singles Day is a great day to mark in their name.

If, I mean, it is really any consolation. You see, for those single people who don’t have any money to spend on that particular day, it can be extra tough.

Besides, no matter how much you spend as a single person, you are still single person.

Still and all, since every dog has its day, I think, by and large, all things considered, it helps to have a day named after one self.

I mean, it’s better than the alternative. Having a day marked in one’s name is better than having no day marked in one’s name after all.

Or is it?

Oh, well, it’s really up for each individual to decide and to deal with.

Or not to deal with, pun intended.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at:, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)

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