ITV News Asia Editor Debi Edward heads to a trinket town in Yiwu, China, where two-thirds of the world’s Christmas decorations are made
We went to visit what could be described as a modern-day Santa’s workshop, a trinket town in Yiwu.
It’s a city on the east coast of China and home to the world’s largest small commodities market.
It is also where two-thirds of the world’s festive decorations come from. Chances are at least one of the decorations in your home or at your local shops were boxed up and shipped from this market.
It is a wholesale bazaar selling everything from tinsel to life-size musical Santas with saxophones.
You name it, from stockings to an assortment of nutcracker statuettes, it has everything you need to make your living room merry and bright.
Including, of course, Christmas trees, which are available in disco-style or classic winter wonderland.
According to Wu Lixue, the owner of one tree shop we visited, buyers in the UK prefer their fake trees, to have a natural look.
For three years, trade in Yiwu was interrupted by Covid closures but this year foreign customers are back browsing for baubles and Christmas knick-knacks to sell in shops around the world.
All the products are for wholesale trade, so buyers will come to choose Christmas items to stock the shelves of retailers in their home country.
Business at one retailer selling old-fashioned streetlamps that double as snow globes told us his trade was up by 40% and he put it down to visitors being able to return to China and select goods for themselves.
The festooned avenues looked quiet on the day we visited, it turns out the most wonderful time of the year in Yiwu, is not actually in December.
Overseas orders go out months in advance, summer is in fact the busiest period so all of the sellers we met were already working towards Christmas 2024.
Christmas Day is not a holiday in China and traditionally it is not a festival observed by most Chinese families, but like Valentine’s Day it has become a commercial celebration, and in some shops, hotels and restaurants, particularly in cities like Beijing and Shanghai, they will have decorations and end of year sales.
One woman selling festive flowers in Yiwu said she didn’t have any customers in China, but she often received messages and pictures from customers in other countries, and it made her happy that her flowers were bringing joy to the world.
Apparently, her colourful felt lollipops have proved very popular in Italy this year and the buyer has already put in a double order for next year.
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