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Holiday gift market cools amid anti-corruption

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-10-04 11:19

NANJING - Holiday season used to be boom time for gift companies in China, but the country's frugality campaign is meaning many of them will have a hard time surviving this time around.

In the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou, where people swarm during Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day holiday to buy Yangcheng Lake crabs, a luxurious delicacy that always serves as the best holiday gift for government officials, crab sellers are worried they will not attract enough customers this year.

Zhou Xuelong, owner of a crab breeding company, said revenue this year is expected to drop by 10 percent as far fewer government units plan to purchase expensive crabs.

"In the past, even a government department of a small western city would place an order worth 100,000 yuan ($16,350), but this year old customers told me in advance they will not buy any crabs," said Zhou.

His company is simplifying crab packaging, opening online shops, and promoting its products among ordinary citizens in second- or third-tier cities.

Meanwhile, restaurants in Suzhou are trying to make their traditional "crab feasts" affordable to normal people by offering versions that use crabs weighing 100 to 150 grams each as food material.

In the past, restaurants would offer crabs weighing 250 to 300 grams each and crab feasts priced at more than 10,000 yuan.

Chinese people put a high value on social contact. Holidays have always been considered the proper time to nurture relationships and bond with old and new friends, as well as cozying up to the leaders of government bodies, which propped up the gift-giving market.

This year, however, disciplinary departments have been urged to tighten supervision and enforcement of discipline to reduce corruption. Practices such as the use of public funds to buy gifts, hold banquets and pay for holidays, as well as extravagance and waste, have been strictly banned.

Along with the crab market, tea, high-end wine and mooncake markets have also been hit by the nationwide anti-corruption activities.

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