Wed, Dec 10, 2003 - Page 11 News List

Christmas market lights up

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER

As Taiwan becomes increasingly internationalized, selling decorations for western holidays such as Christmas has become more lucrative, industry veterans told Taipei Times yesterday.

"As the market is heating up, we are usually able to generate tens of millions of dollars in sales during the Christmas period alone," said Hsu Chi-ching (許積清), owner of Weilichen (威俐城), a wholesaler in Taipei specializing in Christmas and Lunar New Year decorations.

The company, which set up and decorated Christmas trees for the Taipei 101 Mall this year, sensed the market's need for holiday decorations and started business more than 10 years ago.

"We estimate that Taiwan's Christmas-decorations market may amount to hundreds of million of dollars per year," Hsu added.

In the past, a cluster of stores specializing in gifts and decorations on Taipei City's Chang-an West Road has been the first choice for consumers. But competition from furnishings retailers and hypermarkets seems to have changed that.

The owner of the 63-year-old I-tung Toys Co (一東玩具), which was responsible for the Christmas tree at the Presidential Office last year, said the market has become more competitive.

"With Taiwan getting more internationalized, more people and organizations, such as schools and restaurants, start observing Christmas and purchase decorations for the holiday," the toy company's owner, Huang Li-feng (黃麗芬), said.

Growing demand has attracted more competitors such as department stores and hypermarkets, including Hola (特力和樂) and Carrefour.

Carrefour hopes to generate NT$100 million in sales this Christmas, an increase of 15 percent to 20 percent from a year ago.

Hola expects NT$30 million in Christmas sales this year.

"Our [Christmas] sales so far have grown by more than 30 percent year-on-year, exceeding our expectations," Hola assistant manager of marketing Hedy Hsieh (謝明娟) said.

While the domestic market for Christmas decorations is heating up, Taiwan's exports in the field have lost ground.

According to customs statistics, exports of Christmas decorations have declined from US$143.3 million in 1999 to US$60.3 million during the first 10 months of last year.

"With more companies and manufacturers moving to China to cut costs, Taiwan, which used to be a great exporter of Christmas decorations and gifts, has been facing decline in this field," the Taiwan Gift and Housewares Exporters' Association (台灣區藝品禮品公會) said.

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