4 Things to Know About the Big New Retail Holiday 10.10

The American version of China's Singles' Day is the end result of a wild 2020.

Over the past few weeks, rumors have swirled about the possibility of a new large-scale retail holiday designed to fit this very strange year of commerce. And earlier this week, one initiative was finally announced: It's called 10.10 and it aspires to be a Black Friday-style blowout that accounts for the logistical chaos and consumer confusion of a typical holiday year in a year where nothing is typical at all.

What's in a Name?

The holiday's handle 10.10 is an homage to China’s Singles’ Day, which is hosted by Alibaba every year on 11.11 (November 11) and has risen to become the biggest shopping event known to man. Try as we may, we can't possibly overstate just how massive Singles' Day is. Last year, Taylor Swift performed at official launch and sales jumped for $30b in 2018 to $38b in 2019.

In other words, 11.11 makes Black Friday look like a tax-free weekend in Delaware.

The Logistical Benefits

There are plenty of reasons to introduce a new retail holiday into the mix, but none may be as compelling as the backlogs, delivery delays, and consumer demand wrought by lockdown and social-distancing. "Unprecedented demand during the pandemic has constrained shipping, while product selection is low because the outbreak and subsequent lockdown disrupted holiday planning this spring," writes Bloomberg.

What a major retail holiday in early October also offers companies is the opportunity to better hone in on what shoppers may be looking for and adjust accordingly before the holidays arrive. One aspect of the retail trends in the past few months have been their unpredictability—first, it was cleaning supplies and sourdough, then it was tie-dye and home improvement. Any event that offers a forecast of what late 2020 shoppers want will be invaluable data in a year where anything goes.

Who's Getting Involved?

For consumers, one frustrating aspect of the 10.10 initiative is that very few brands have announced their involvement. There are several big reasons to stay mum about a big sale that's still nearly a month a way, but it seems fair to suggest that once a handful of retailers get involved, it will unleash a torrent of participant.

There are already some rumblings about moved-up sales that may coincide with 10.10. Home Depot, for example, is turning on its Black Friday deal spigot just a few days ahead of the 10.10 rush on October 8th.

The Messaging

While some sales are just a natural part of the yearly cycle, this one is a little bit different in tenor. In some ways, the concept of 10.10 itself is almost a warning to retailers and customers alike: This holiday season isn't going to look like it normally does.

That means normal expectations and old traditions—whether it's waiting until the very last minute to shop or bowling over a slow-moving shopper at a Black Friday event—won't cut it in 2020. “There is no capacity,” the event creator Deborah Weinswig explains. “We’re seeing people who have never shopped online shop online.”