CITY GUIDE >Shops and Services
'Low' expectations for Christmas sales
By Meng Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-11-17 13:24

'Low' expectations for Christmas sales

A lone customer selects Christmas decorations at IKEA.

Businesses in Beijing are gearing up for one of the biggest shopping seasons in China, but some predict bad tidings for profit after the economic crisis.

Tianyi market, the largest wholesale market in Beijing with more than 3,000 traders selling everything from buttons to jewelry, is busy preparing for Christmas.

Li Qingfu, the deputy general manager of Tianyi, told METRO: "Christmas and Spring Festival are the two major shopping seasons in Beijing. In our market, we estimate that a throughput of goods for Christmas season alone will be close to 100 million yuan."

A 4-m-tall Santa Claus has been welcoming shoppers from the roof of the market since early November, and Christmas decorations and lights already decorate the market's first floor.

But a trader in the market surnamed Ge is not so optimistic. He put out Christmas items on shelves on Nov 7, 10 days earlier than previous years in a move to counter reduced consumer spending.

Ge said: "Since the exports of Christmas goods have been so drastically influenced by the global financial crisis, I decided to start selling decorations earlier and avoid market competition."

Ge said he has a customer in the US who used to order as much as 1 million yuan of Christmas decorations every year. This year the customer cut the order in half.

Vantone, another wholesale shopping center in Beijing with a 10-year history, has also decorated its windows with Christmas trees and toy reindeers.

Qi Wei from the planning department at Vantone said: "We really pay attention to this Christmas. Since the general economic climate is not very good right now, we really want to attract more customers."

Qi said her department has been making plans for Christmas since September. "We have already ordered 600 Christmas hats for our employees. And all our posters and decorations will be ready by the middle of this month," she said.

Qi didn't want to reveal the amount of money Vantone has invested in its Christmas preparation but admitted the shopping center has spent more than in previous years.

Chen Yaona, a gift supplier who owns three shops in Beijing, ordered Christmas decorations valued at about 1 million yuan from Guangdong province in mid October.

Chen, who has been running the service in Beijing for seven years, is not optimistic about this year's Christmas shopping season. "Some restaurants in Beijing are more cautious this year," she said.

Chen told METRO that due to the financial crisis, her customers value every penny of their budget and consult with numerous shops to get the lowest prices. A spokeswoman for the Beijing Hilton Hotel said they had bought a three-story-tall Christmas tree for its annual tree lighting ceremony, but also refused to reveal their Christmas budget.