Ho, ho, ho ... Santa shrugs off trade row

- Nov 13, 2018-

Exports of Yiwu's Christmas items to the US, other markets will surge despite price rise

The last week of this year will be business as usual for Santa Claus, thanks to Zhejiang province's Yiwu, the global capital of Christmas decoration goods, industry insiders said.

Santa's trademark "Ho, ho, ho" won't be muted by the raging global trade tariff tensions and the consequent rise in the prices of festive paraphernalia like bells, bubble hats, the white-edged red coats, plastic trees, LED lights, dolls, shiny colorful lightweight balls and trinkets, all of which constitute a multibillion-dollar market.

Traders said they expect Christmas-related collective sales of nearly 300 Yiwu merchants to rise 25 percent year-on-year to nearly $5 billion this year.

Months before Christmas, the landmark Yiwu International Trade City, the chock-a-block sales and dispatch center for the festival goods, began throbbing with hectic activity. That's because for Yiwu's merchants and factory owners, the Christmas season starts in May, when customers' purchase orders start trickling in.

Factories run at full steam to meet the tasks of manufacturing and shipping their products across the world.

Zhang Dan of Kunyuan Christmas Craftwork Co said the firm's shipments doubled this year on the back of robust demand from Latin America, Europe and Africa. Her story makes fascinating reading, a tribute to the amazing entrepreneurial spirit that Yiwu fosters.

Her parents first came to Yiwu from Chengdu in Sichuan province more than 15 years ago. Zhang herself graduated from Sichuan Normal University four years ago and joined the family business in Christmas goods.

She has been focusing on exploring new markets through cross-border e-shopping platforms such as Amazon. In addition, given the rising popularity of Christmastime home decorations among Chinese people, the firm caters to the domestic market through local trading platforms.

Kunyuan runs a manufacturing unit in Dongyang near Yiwu. It has inked supply deals with dozens of overseas clients. The firm's cloth-based craftwork is something of a fad among Amazon users.

For Zhang, the key to robust sales lies in continuous communication with overseas clients and strong innovative design capabilities.

"We have engaged special designers in working out the latest trendy Christmas-related craftwork. For example, I research overseas destinations and get products designed in a way that is compatible with the local culture. Sometimes, our clients will also offer inspirational ideas on product designs," she said.

Zhang is one of the 470,000 market dealers in Yiwu. Dubbed the world's small commodities capital, Yiwu is best known for its Christmas-related merchandise.

That accounts for over 90 percent of the domestic output in the category, and 60 to 70 percent of the world's total, according to the Yiwu Christmas Products Industry Association.