Feature: Spring Festival sets off consumption boom in central Chinese wholesale center

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WUHAN, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- As Chinese people ring in the Year of the Rabbit, a consumption surge is sweeping the country. In Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, a mega-sized wholesale center is witnessing a spending spree and brimming with jubilation.

With an area of 6 million square meters and home to more than 30,000 wholesale companies, the Wuhan Hankoubei International Commodity Trade Center is a major shopping destination for customers in central China, especially before the Lunar New Year.

The Hankoubei center, located on the outskirts of Wuhan, has been packed with cars and shoppers recently, and the six-lane highway leading to the center is often congested from as early as 8 a.m.

Zuo Wei, 21, has put flowers on his new year's shopping list. He said he was dazzled by more than 500 varieties of flowers in a new "flower town" that has opened in the Hankoubei center.

The flower town was created in cooperation with the Kunming Dounan Flower Market in Yunnan Province, the largest fresh-cut flower trading market in Asia.

"These flowers will be good decorations for my home, and they also carry good wishes for my family and the coming year," said Zuo, who bought brightly colored Baby's Breath, roses and Chinese Holly.

"Hopefully, life will be more smooth, romantic and flourishing," he joked.

Su Lin, vice general manager of the flower town, said that staff have to refill hundreds of flower buckets at least twice a day, as they usually receive more than 1,000 customers by noon.

"Since our opening in December, we have sold up to 200,000 flowers a day. And as the Spring Festival, the Lantern Festival and Valentine's Day are coming, we think our sales will reach another peak," Su said.

Stores selling Lunar New Year specialties have embraced their busiest time of year. At Hankoubei's stationery center, a four-story compound housing more than 200 shops, sellers have laid out a vast collection of decorations such as red lanterns, electric firecrackers, calligraphy couplets and rabbit dolls.

"I'm so pleased that business is thriving again," said Wang Xingpeng, who has been occupied signing bills, negotiating prices and tallying purchases from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day.

Starting his business in 2009, Wang was one of the earliest stationery shop owners in Hankoubei. "The business was really tough during the pandemic, but, luckily, I got through it," said Wang, adding that sales have nearly hit 100,000 yuan (about 14,770 U.S. dollars) per day.

Wearing new clothes is a new year's tradition in China. At the clothing mall in Hankoubei, Chen Jing and her relatives bought cotton-padded jackets, sweaters and trousers for all five children in their family.

"I hope everything takes on a completely new look for the kids," Chen said.

E-commerce livestreamers are also sharing the dividends of the new year shopping spree. In Zhou Shengli's clothing shop in the Hankoubei center, three livestreamers could recently be seen introducing polar fleece jackets of varied colors and styles to online consumers across the country, and orders were flying in.

"After thorough market research months ago, our factories picked polar fleece jackets as our leading new year specialty, and our sales volume has proved our decision was right," said Zhou, who runs six clothing factories and a clothing store.

"Our store now operates through livestreaming 24 hours a day, and we receive thousands of orders every day with a turnover of 200,000 yuan," he added.

According to data provided by the Wuhan Hankoubei International Commodity Trade Center, nearly 850,000 people visited the trade center from Jan. 1 to Jan. 15, with the total sales volume of Lunar New Year specialties exceeding 2.6 billion yuan. ■

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