China Focus: Traditional Spring Festival holiday picks up new ways of spending
BEIJING, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- Celebrating the Chinese New Year is getting easier, healthier, and more fun as one of the world's traditional holidays is seeing new modes of dining, shopping, and family gatherings.
The key term for this year's Spring Festival holiday will be "consumption upgrade," with higher-quality products and services gaining popularity, according to Wang Bingnan, vice minister of commerce.
While meals at family gatherings previously included all kinds of meat, many Chinese are now more interested in organic foods, green vegetables, and other healthy products, Wang pointed out.
Meanwhile, more families are choosing to dine outside their homes or order dishes online to save more quality time to spend with family. Over 90 percent of the New Year's Eve set meals available at restaurants have been pre-booked.
Total earnings of retail and catering enterprises are expected to surge by 10 percent year on year to reach 900 billion yuan (about 143 billion U.S. dollars) during the week-long Spring Festival holiday starting Feb. 15, according to Wang.
The popularity of e-commerce has made trips home easier as many travellers have their special holiday purchases, some even from overseas, delivered to their homes via e-commerce platforms such as Alibaba's Taobao and JD.com.
About ten courier companies have decided to keep their express delivery services running during the holiday as online shopping has become a habit for Chinese consumers.
While the Spring Festival centers on gatherings of family and friends, many people are trying to include new activities to make it more interesting.
Over ten domestic movies will debut during the Spring Festival holiday, while sales of skiing equipment rose more than 30 percent ahead of the holiday.
About 385 million trips are expected to be made during the holiday, up 12 percent year on year, with tourism revenue around 476 billion yuan. About 6.5 million Chinese will travel overseas.
People from more than 200 Chinese cities have booked outbound tours to over 700 cities in 68 countries and regions on Ctrip, with destinations as far as Antarctica.
"Changes in lifestyle exert some impact on consumer behavior and habits. Consumers have come up with new requirements for tourism and food, thus contributing to the upgrading of these two sectors. When traveling, they pay more attention to the experience and comfort. In terms of food consumption, they are more willing to pay for healthy food," said Vishal Bali, managing director of Nielsen China.
China's Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) reached 112 points in 2017, up from 106 points in 2016, with job prospects, personal finance and willingness to spend reaching a two-year high, according to Nielsen's latest quarterly survey.
The CCI continued its strong run in the fourth quarter of last year, reaching a record high of 114 points and it will maintain steady growth in foreseeable future as the economy stabilizes, said Bali.
China is expected to see retail sales of consumer goods expand about 10 percent to exceed 40 trillion yuan this year, according to a report from the research institute of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT).
The strong consumption growth will be powered by innovative products and services as more affluent Chinese are willing to pay for higher quality and unique experiences, the report showed.