With Christmas over and while most of the Western world begrudgingly filters back into work this week, in China its been business as usual and apart from two days holiday for New Year there is no official recognition of Christmas Day as a religious festival. Of course retailers didn’t miss the extra opportunity Christmas shopping presents and so malls and brands across China adopted the holiday spirit with decorations, sales and promotions.
While most malls in Shanghai and Beijing have gone to some effort to create the feel of the Festive Season, many of the decorations do greater harm than good appearing as tacky oversized baubles, stars, trees and presents. China’s fascination with flashing lights never fails to wear thin and many building and malls simply went with the ‘lots and lots (and lots) of flashing lights’ strategy to attract the wayward Christmas shopper. Any Christmas shopping done in China is still insignificant in the whole spectrum of retail sales and so there is unlikely to be any impact, dent, or even blip in the retail sales data around the Christmas Season.
Malls and retailers aside, the youth of China are increasingly exposed to international culture and ideas. For Chinese youth, the adoption and celebration of Christmas is, as so many things in China, rapidly becoming fashionable. On Christmas Eve there was a massive surge of text messages from Chinese expressing the seasons merriment. Christmas Eve was also bedlam in the popular night spots of Beijing as Chinese headed out en masse to celebrate Christmas. How many actually know what Christmas means or represents is another question. Part of the buzz surrounding Christmas Eve this year must be put down to it falling on a Saturday. If Christmas Day had fallen on a weekday, with the day after being a working day, it’s doubtful so many would have ventured out.
Hong Kong is a different story. With such a large expat population and established Western culture, Christmas in Hong Kong is an officially recognized holiday and it presents a significant chance for retailers to close out their year with a boost to sales. Hong Kong’s mall decorations are generally much better than those on the mainland with the skyscrapers and walkways around Hong Kong all brilliantly dressed up with Santas, sleighs and snowmen etc.
Below are some of the Christmas scenes at malls and shop windows from around China the last few weeks.