Consumers splash out on buying gifts

Updated: 2010-12-24 11:21

By Cheng Yingqi (China Daily)

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Consumers splash out on buying gifts

Two women shop for Christmas toys on Monday at a supermarket in Zouping county, Shandong province. [Photo / China Daily] 

BEIJING - After spending two hours browsing through the discounted foreign brands at a shopping mall in Beijing's Chaoyang district, 26-year-old Cheng Jia eventually decided to buy her husband a wallet for Christmas.

"Thirty percent off, that is 1,000 yuan ($150) less than I thought," Cheng said. She still has other presents to buy, including a gift for her father.

"Christmas is when I always max out my credit card," she said.

With the approach of Christmas and the New Year, the festive atmosphere has brought shoppers out in droves.

Seasonal promotions have also been rolled out. On the other side of the city at the Grand Pacific department store in west Beijing, discounts are on offer and the store has hired makeup artists to give a finished look to customers who spend more than 300 yuan at the store.

"This year we combined our Christmas promotion with the New Year, which means there will be up to a 45 percent discount on some items between Dec 17 and Jan 3, 2011," said Wang Zhiyong, who works in planning at Zhongyou, another large department store in Beijing.

The retail volume is expected to increase 20 percent over the Christmas period this year over last year, he said.

Christmas shopping bargains began even earlier outside the capital.

In Xiamen, Fujian province, stores began to compete for shoppers by starting their promotions in late November.

And in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, 60 to 70 percent discounts were on offer for 24 hours a day over a 10-day period.

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As for festive meals, the price of having dinner on Christmas at the Overseas Chinese Hotel in Wenzhou, East China's Zhejiang province, costs 488 yuan per head. While it is 150 yuan more than usual, 260 of the 300 available seats had already been booked by the end of last week.

"Our dinner price is competitive compared to other five-star hotels," said a hotel manager surnamed Zhang. "With inflation, most hotels raised their prices," he said.

In November, the country's consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, rose 5.1 percent over the same period in 2009, hitting a 28-month high.

"I am planning to buy more clothes during the Christmas sales, because I heard textile prices will continue to rise next year," said Wei Min, 26, a white-collar worker in Beijing.

Liu Deqian, deputy director of the tourism research center at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said impending price hikes would stimulate people's desire to buy and he expects this year's Christmas retail sales to exceed previous years.

"Christmas has become increasingly popular with young Chinese, who buy more retail goods," Liu said, adding that consumption is being fueled by people withdrawing more money from their bank accounts to cover rising prices.

According to the findings of a survey held by the Shanghai Morning Post earlier this month, 25 percent of the 209 respondents were considering cutting back on their Christmas spending this year, while 32 percent said they expected to spend more.


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