Last year on Singles' Day NZ Post delivered almost three parcels a second, but despite the commercial success of the shopping day, here and around the world, many Kiwis still don't know what it is.

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Singles' Day, or 11.11 as it is commonly known as in China, celebrated on the 11th day of the 11th month of the year, is considered to be the biggest shopping day of the year, surpassing the commercial success of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Each year billions of dollars are spent on and during the lead-up to November 11, thanks to Chinese internet giants Alibaba and JD.com which have in the past 10 years made the occasion a global shopping extravaganza.

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Singles' Day started as an anti-Valentine's Day movement in the 1990s. It is now considered a significant event in the global retail calendar.

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Alibaba clocked US$30.8 billion ($48b) worth of sales on Singles' Day last year, while New Zealand retailers that participated in the event made millions of dollars in revenue from online sales. Cleaning products company Ecostore sold $2.36 million worth of product on November 11, while Fonterra clocked $28m from sales of its Anchor dairy products and Anmum milk powder.

But despite the shopping festival's commercial success for local retailers, 73 per cent of New Zealanders have not heard of Singles' Day, according to price and product comparison site PriceSpy.

This figure is down from last year, when 76 per cent of Kiwis said they had not heard of the shopping festival.

A PriceSpy survey found just 12 per cent of Kiwis have bought something on Singles' Day - but it expects awareness to increase as 11.11 continues to grow.

Singles' Day was turned into a shopping holiday in 2009. Just 27 merchants took part in the Alibaba's 11.11 festival 10 years ago, compared to participation from more than 180,000 brands last year.

Alibaba anticipates 500 million shoppers will take part in the 11.11 event this year, up from about 100 million recorded last year.

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Bryan Dobson, chief marketing officer at NZ Post, said Singles' Day was starting to catch on in New Zealand. He said Singles' Day kicked off the busy period for the state-owned enterprise.

"While Black Friday and Cyber Monday still dominate the online shopping days in New Zealand, we're expecting Singles' Day this year to be bigger than ever as Kiwi consumers and e-tailers jump on the bandwagon," Dobson said.

New Zealand retailers made millions of dollars on Singles' Day last year. Photo / Getty Images
New Zealand retailers made millions of dollars on Singles' Day last year. Photo / Getty Images

More Kiwis were spending and shopping online more often, with shopping holidays such as Singles' Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday becoming a "major factor" in online shopping habits, a recent NZ Post report found.

This time last year, NZ Post was delivering an average of almost three parcels a second. In November and December it delivered a total of 14.5 million parcels.

About 1.8 million Kiwis shopped online last year, spending a total of $4.2 billion, with a significant portion of this spending requiring items to be delivered.

Online shopping grew by 16 per cent in 2018 - eight times faster than in-store shopping.

"NZ Post is expecting another record online shopping season this year and will be upping our capacity to meet the huge number of parcels that are already starting to come through our network – including 185 additional flights, 27 additional trucks, 1,500 additional delivery runs, 200 extra vans and hundreds of extra people," Dobson said.

NZ Post delivered more than 78 million parcels last year.