China's booming single business

Eating out with friends and spending time with family used to be the norm in China. But as technology brings about new services, some people are embracing the solo life.

Belting out songs alone is usually something for the shower. But in China, it's becoming an increasingly popular activity for young people.

Over 20,000 solo karaoke boxes have been set up at malls, airports and subway stations across the country.

"I come here to relax," says a woman who comes frequently. "When I'm alone, I'm carefree and don't have to worry about anybody else."

Solo karaoke boxes at a subway station.

The dining scene has also been changing to suit the single foodie. Hot pot is traditionally a group meal. But a Beijing-based meal prep service has started producing packages for individuals. Each set comes with ingredients and instructions. And the first order comes with a free pot and burner, small-sized for the individual.

Tao Tai Lang offers its service in 250 cities. The owner says sales have increased 28-fold in just three years.

"Single people want to eat well too," says Zhao Zikun, CEO. "In the past, they didn't have as much variety to choose from as groups and families. We're happy to give them an option."

Each hot pot set comes with ingredients and instructions, and the first order includes a free pot and burner.

Zhang Huishi went to graduate school in the US and now works for an IT firm in Beijing. She says her busy schedule means she has to rely on delivery services.

"I work long hours," she says. "I'm hardly home. So during the spare time I do have, I want to relax and do whatever I want."

Zhang adds, "For now, marriage and children seem like sources of stress rather than enrichment."

Government data shows the number of marriages has been declining over the past few years. Hu Xingdou, an economist in Beijing, says this trend will only lead to more business opportunities to cater to single people.

"People's values have changed," he says. "They find there's nothing inconvenient about living alone, thanks to the Internet and technological developments. This trend will have big effects on the economy."

More and more people are finding comfort in a life spent largely alone. And for firms serving their needs in everything from entertainment to food, business is booming.

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