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A foreign customer (right) places orders at a toy store in Yiwu International Trade Market in August. [Photo by Gong Xianming/for China Daily]
Market opens to high sales after COVID-19 restrictions lifted with chartered flights, new logistics channels
Yiwu, Zhejiang province-based businessman Liu Liwei is as busy as he is during the Singles Day shopping spree after Yiwu's market reopened on Aug 21, 10 days after restrictions caused by COVID-19 went into effect.
"My job is to arrange the deliveries, including sending out the backlog of goods, and I also notify my customers that production has returned to normal so they can place orders now," said Liu, who sells small accessories. He added that the past few days saw a significant reduction in online orders, but he still has some fixed customers who continue to place large orders.
Numbers from the Yiwu Bureau of Statistics showed that Yiwu's express delivery volume reached 34.77 million pieces on Aug 21. On Aug 22, that volume went up to 39.74 million pieces, an increase of 32.5 percent compared with the average daily express volume before the epidemic.
"Every August is typically the busiest month for selling Christmas products to global markets," said the person in charge of Yiwu Jiumu Arts & Crafts Co, who preferred to remain anonymous, China Times reports. "We had no idea how long the restrictions would last. We were worried that international customers would cancel orders and goods wouldn't be shipped, which could lead to huge losses. But the actual situation is much better than we expected."
Yiwu is the world's largest distribution center for Christmas products such as tree decorations, Yuletide clothing, greeting cards, festive lights and packaging, with two-thirds of the world's goods in this category coming from the county-level city.
To fight against the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak since Aug 2, Yiwu issued the notice on implementing temporary restrictions from Aug 11 to 14 and then postponed lifting the restrictions until Aug 21.
With the shortage of suppliers, the shutdown of production, and the suspension of express shipping during the 10-day restrictions caused by COVID-19 disturbing the overseas market, August began the Christmas season as cross-border shipping generally takes two to three months.
Christmas products are time-sensitive. If the products can't be shipped by the end of August, it is very likely that they won't catch up with the Christmas promotions in the following months.
The global pandemic has hampered the development of foreign-trade companies, which have found it difficult to take part in negotiations and offline exhibitions abroad.
Therefore, since April this year, Zhejiang has arranged chartered flights to bring foreign customers to China to purchase goods.
According to Ge Qiaodi, deputy mayor of the Yiwu municipal government, from July 30 to Aug 28, the first three international charter flights carried overseas foreign business people to Yiwu, which not only provided a channel for people of foreign enterprises to come to Yiwu, but also brought some new customers and new orders, which boosts its market vitality.