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Double 11 for Ma's Made-Up Holiday

11 numbers to explain the world's No.1 shopping holiday...

IN 2009, writes Frank Holmes at US Global Investors, Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma single-handedly created the Singles Day sale.

Converting a fabricated holiday, celebrated among lonely college students, into what has become the biggest revenue-generator the world has ever known, Ma also copyrighted the phrase "Double 11" – a play on November 11 – while aggressively courting merchants.

Ma's gargantuan ecommerce company Alibaba thus manages to stay ahead of the competition and sell more merchandise in a 24-hour period than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

Today, Alibaba controls around 80% of China's ecommerce market and is giving global retail giants like Amazon a run for their money. To keep up with the stiff competition, Walmart plans to spend $2 billion over the next two years to improve its own ecommerce infrastructure.

When explaining the significance of Alibaba and Singles Day, I'm prone to pull out every synonym for "big" and "huge" I can think of. So instead, I'll let the numbers speak for themselves. Here are 11 such numbers that help tell the story of Singles Day, the holiday that Jack Ma built.

11.11
The date Chinese university students selected back in the mid-1990s as a sort of anti-Valentine's Day for single people. What started as a joke has become the world's largest shopping holiday.

$1 Billion
How much merchandise Alibaba sold last Singles Day within the first three minutes of the sale.

Over $9.3 Billion
Total sales within 24 hours. This amount far exceeds the combined sales revenue of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the two largest American shopping holidays.

$12 Billion
What many analysts predict Alibaba will generate this Singles Day.

43 Percent
The percentage of Singles Day transactions made on mobile devices in 2014. Expect to see this number rise after the sales figures roll in this year.

40,000
The number of merchants that will be participating this year, including global brands Disney, Apple, Costco, Macy's and Lego.

6 Million
The number of items to choose from.

$277
The average amount each shopper is expected to spend.

760 Million
The number of packages China's postal service estimates will be needed to ship Singles Day orders. This is up 40 percent from the 540 million used last year.

1.7 Million
The estimated number of deliverymen and women that will be needed.

200
The estimated number of jets and airplanes that will be deployed to handle the sales volume in China alone.

Frank Holmes is chief executive officer and chief investment officer of US Global Investors Inc., a registered investment adviser managing approximately $4.8 billion in 13 no-load mutual funds and for other advisory clients. A Toronto native, he bought a controlling interest in US Global Investors in 1989, after an accomplished career in Canada's capital markets. His specialized knowledge gives him expertise in resource-based industries and money management.

See the full archive of Frank Holmes.

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