Tue, Jan 10, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Taipei promotes holiday bazaars

SHOPPING FRENZY Four areas of the city are joining forces to promote New Year goods, while hypermarkets are also launching deals to coincide with the holiday

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Staff of a local bus service, dressed in traditional costumes and in the guise of the God of Wealth, center, stand in front of a bus that is one of a fleet commissioned by the Taipei City Government to provide a pre-Lunar New Year shuttle service to carry shoppers to shopping areas specializing in seasonal delicacies and paraphernalia.

PHOTO: CNA

To showcase the capital's cultural heritage and distinctive shopping areas, the Taipei City Government has integrated four commercial areas near the train station to offer consumers well-managed holiday bazaars offering New Year goods.

The two-week Taipei 2006 New Year Shopping Carnival will start on Friday and run through Jan. 27, one day before Lunar New Year's Eve.

Taiwanese people traditionally purchase dried farm produce, dried aquatic products, pickled foodstuffs, peanuts and sweets for the Lunar New Year holiday.

The four areas include Dihua Street (迪化街), one of the oldest and most traditional shopping hubs selling Chinese medicine, dried foodstuffs and processed goods; Huayin Street (華陰街) behind Taipei Main Station, which clusters together leather, garment and ornament stores; Ningxia Night Market (寧夏夜市), which is famous for traditional snacks and food stands; and Taipei City Underground Shopping Center underneath Civic Boulevard, which has a complete line of food, electronic gadgets and fashionable garments.

"Some of the goods sold in our bazaars are cheaper than those in hypermarkets by 20 to 30 percent," said Huang Ching-sung (黃錦松), chief of the four commercial areas, at a press conference yesterday.

With the launch of the marketing campaign, the Datong Administrative District Office estimated that during the 15 days, combined sales should exceed the NT$3 billion (US$94 million) posted last year with 700,000 to 800,000 shoppers visiting the 400 stores.

To create a more friendly environment, the district office is taking the lead role in managing food quality, noise control and traffic problems, said Huang Mei-yun (黃媺雲), director of the district office.

"It'll be a fun and interesting place to shop for New Year goodies and necessities," she said.

To snatch a bigger share of the tremendous New Year sales, hypermarket operators have also launched a series of festive activities and promotions.

Carrefour Taiwan and Tesco Stores (Taiwan) Co have the longest promotional periods, starting last Thursday and running through the end of this month.

"Gift boxes have become a key segment as sales during the Lunar New Year period are six times those during the Mid-Autumn Festival. The demand is tremendous," said Daisy Lee (李如秀), Tesco's corporate affairs manager.

RT-Mart (大潤發) has also spotted the trend.

With cooking habits changing, sales of gift boxes full of dried foodstuff, such as abalones, are gradually declining, giving way to those highlighting healthy and natural items, according to Margery Ho (何默真), RT-Mart's public relations official.

"Last year, sales of health-focused gift boxes grew by 30 percent year-on-year. We expect that the strong growth momentum will persist this year," Ho said.

Far Eastern Geant (愛買吉安) said that retail prices will be kept unchanged although price increases of materials such as eggs and flour occurred last year.

The four operators will be open 24 hours a day starting about a week before the New Year, and hope to post 20-30 percent growth in revenues from last year.

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