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Employees make Christmas toys at a factory in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province. The products will be exported to Europe and the United States. [Photo by Si Wei/For China Daily]
HANGZHOU－With the Christmas season here, the relevant industries in China, which were hit by the global spread of COVID-19 last year, have been recovering. But challenges remain.
About 80 percent of the world's Christmas products are exported from Yiwu, a global leading small commodities market in Zhejiang province. This year, Christmas decoration manufacturers have seen a rise in orders.
The Yiwu Christmas Products Industry Association, with more than 200 members, said orders increased 30 percent year-on-year compared with the 2020 figure.
The total number of orders accounted for about 80 percent of that in 2019, indicating recovery from the COVID-19 fallout, said Cai Qinliang, secretary-general of the association.
Dongyang Weijiule Crafts Co Ltd, a Christmas water lanterns producer, reported its sales volume bounced back to the 2019 level at 30 million yuan ($4.7 million).
Exports account for about 80 percent of Weijiule's business. To mitigate pandemic-induced disruptions, the company has stayed in close contact with overseas clients to ensure the delivery of orders since 2020.
"Overseas demand gradually revived, and orders flocked to us in February, a month earlier than usual," said Qiu Xuemei, general sales manager of the company, adding she considered it a relief but also a source of pressure.
"The pandemic made overseas purchasers too cautious to replenish their stock last year so that many of them saw supply fall short of demand," Qiu said. "However, the earlier they place the orders, the heavier the pressure we face due to rising raw material and sea transportation costs."
The rationing of electricity supply has also extended the production cycle, causing possible delivery delays, Qiu said. Products that failed to catch up with the Christmas season would become an excess inventory of overseas clients, which may drag down their demand next year.
"Also, the longer production time squeezed our time of developing new products to cater to new preferences," said Qiu.
"Some enterprises slowed down their pace of production while facing those uncertainties, but I believe that the resilient supply chain in China can always be a beacon of hope," said Cai.
China has a mass of upstream enterprises in the Christmas decoration industry, which can provide a great convenience for Yiwu-based manufacturers while effective control of COVID-19 also weaves a safety net, Cai added.
"With the uncertainties brought by the pandemic, companies need to develop e-commerce and information technologies to keep pace," said Cai, adding upgrading products is also important.
Christmas tree pendants, Santa figures and snow globes thronged shelves and counters of Qiu's store near the Yiwu International Trade Market as usual. "No matter what happens, people always need some festive atmosphere," he said.