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2 Feb, 2014

Four important ways Chinese spend money during the Spring Festival

Huan Jia, Yun Xiaoqian, Liu Shaoyang

Beijing (People’s Daily Online) January 30, 2014 – The following four ways Chinese spend their money during this year’s Spring Festival offer unique insights into Chinese culture, as well as pointers for the travel & tourism industry on how to attract Chinese visitors.

New Year’s Eve dinner

New Year’s Eve dinner, also called family reunion dinner or Spring Festival dinner, is the most important meal of the Spring Festival. In contrast to “high-end” and expensive New Year’s Eve dinners in previous years, most restaurants have lowered the price of the meal this year. “It’s convenient to have the family reunion dinner in a restaurant,” says Mrs. Wu, a housewife from Shenyang in northeastern China’s Liaoning Province. “We can book a dinner in the restaurant where we usually eat and it won’t cost too much, about 500 to 1,000 yuan.”

Although most restaurants have reduced the number of dishes in their dinner packages, an increasing number of people choose to eat out in a restaurant in order to avoid the bother of cooking at home. In Beijing, more than 80 percent of New Year’s Eve dinners have been booked up in restaurants including Emei Restaurant, Meizhou Dongpo, Donglaishun, Dasanyuan, and Guolin. Their Spring Festival food packages also sell well in these restaurants. Many businesses are also targeting this opportunity, providing cooked or semi-finished Spring Festival food packages for consumers to choose on their online shopping websites.

Do Spring Festival shopping

The online shopping websites have started their endless Spring Festival promotions. Whether you are too busy to go to the supermarket, or you want to shop around and choose the most affordable goods, the online retailers have an option for you.

“We have spent more than a thousand yuan on Spring Festival goods online, including snacks, milk, biscuits, wine, drinks, household cleaning supplies, and cooked foods,” says Mr. Zhang from Taiyuan, capital of northern China’s Shanxi Province. “There is a large variety of goods online and they can be delivered directly to our home. It’s very convenient.”

Festive souvenirs

Of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, the horse, or ma, is undoubtedly one of the most popular, not only because of its robust and energetic image, but also due to a cultural association that links the animal to success. A humorous version of expressing one’s best wishes has emerged online in China this year, where netizens have started posting various photos of a toy horse carrying something on its back, such as a stack of bank notes, a pair of elephants, a mini car, or a house.

A visual pun on the word “mashang”, meaning “immediately” or literally “on the horse”, the playful pictures mean “May you have money/ a boyfriend or girlfriend/ a car/a house immediately”. Along with the playful pictures online, toy horses carrying something on their back are also popular items with customers in the toy markets. “I spent 400 yuan and bought a dozen ‘mashang chenggong’ toys. I will give them to classmates as gifts, and hope their wishes will be immediately fulfilled,” says Pan Ye, a university freshman from Beijing.

Buy gold

With the Spring Festival approaching, the gold market has entered its sales season. The recent decline in the gold price has offered consumers more affordable choices. In the “ALL LOVE ALL LIFE” gold shop in Dazhongsi in Beijing, gold ornaments with a horse connotation are especially popular among consumers.

Yu Guiying, the general manager of the gold shop, says that the traditional Chinese wish to bless others with success or fortune has stimulated the sales of such items. In addition, the sharp decline in gold prices this year has also attracted the attention of consumers. The preference for gold derives not only from its role as a bringer of blessings, but for its worth as an investment and a long-term holder of value.

The article is edited and translated from 马年春节 钱花在哪里, source: People’s Daily Overseas Edition, author: