Christmas decoration manufacturers optimistic despite pandemic woes

FUZHOU/HANGZHOU, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) — In the midst of the coruscating Christmas season, palm-sized snow globes, Christmas tree pendants and Santa figures have swarmed shelves and counters in the office building of Shunmei Group, a renowned ceramic product exporter in Dehua County, east China’s Fujian Province.

This year’s Christmas has been an unusual peak season for the county’s ceramic makers. Dehua, the global ceramic manufacturing powerhouse, exports home accessories and seasonal gifts to more than 190 countries and regions.

“We’re doing better than we had imagined amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Zheng Pengfei, general manager of Shunmei, adding that the company’s export has been improving on a monthly basis with a surge in orders.

Export accounts for about 80 percent of Shunmei’s business. To counter pandemic-induced disruptions, Zheng stayed in close contact with overseas clients to ensure the delivery of orders.

Although the county’s export is expected to reach 2.49 billion yuan (about 381.2 million U.S. dollars) in the first 10 months, up 7.8 percent year on year, local authorities warned of uncertainties for foreign trade deals as the pandemic rages.

The Yiwu Christmas Products Industry Association in east China’s Zhejiang Province confirmed orders declining by more than 50 percent.

The orders depend on whether the COVID-19 pandemic can be controlled abroad, said Cai Qinliang, secretary-general of the association. The organization has more than 200 members, mainly small and medium-sized enterprises.

Most of the Christmas products exported from China are made in Yiwu, the world’s leading small commodities market in Zhejiang, accounting for about 80 percent of the world’s total.

“Our clients have fallen by 80 to 90 percent in some countries such as Brazil,” said Cai. “Originally, the Christmas industry in Brazil and other South American countries developed quite fast with high procurement volume in Yiwu and other parts of Zhejiang.”

Zhu Zhijuan’s Yiwu-based Xintean Arts & Crafts company has been making artificial Christmas trees for 15 years. With the pandemic dealing a heavy blow to the sector, she saw orders plunge by one third.

“We tried to move online and contacted some of the overseas purchasers. However, the dampening demand is also a head-scratcher for them,” Zhu said.

Under the challenges brought about by the pandemic, companies need to develop e-commerce and information technologies to catch up with the times, said Cai. “I believe things will get better when the pandemic is over.”

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