China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS -

While­many peo­ple in China got ready to cel­e­brate Christ­mas Eve onWed­nes­day, dec­o­ra­tion sell­ers said they had found it hard to en­joy the fes­tive at­mos­phere after notic­ing a se­ri­ous slump in business, which many blamed on the on­go­ing anti-cor­rup­tion cam­paign.

At Laitai Flower Mar­ket in Beijing, for in­stance, store hold­ers said they had just started to en­joy sig­nif­i­cant rises in sales in re­cent years, as the pop­u­lar­ity of Christ­mas— not tra­di­tion­ally a popular fes­ti­val in China— gre­wa­mong young peo­ple par­tic­u­larly.

The gov­ern­ment’s crack­downon cor­rup­tion, how­ever, has­meant a marked fall this year in sales of gifts and dec­o­ra­tions, own­ers said.

Xin­hui Christ­masDec­o­ra­tions, one of four dec­o­ra­tion stores op­po­site the mar­ket, has been run by its owner Luo for a decade, but he says the last two years have been hard, adding there were pre­vi­ously 16 stores op­er­at­ing nearby.

“Sales of Christ­mas or­na­ments from my store have de­clined more than 40 per­cent this year, ” said Luo. “The fall ac­cel­er­ated sud­denly last year as big clients such as five-star ho­tels and clubs cut their pur­chase by half.”

“Main­tain­ing our sales looks like an im­pos­si­ble mis­sion, de­spite cut­ting our prices again and again this year,” said Luo, whowas busy shut­ting up shop on Christ­mas Eve.

Luo re­mem­bered sell­ing Christ­mas trees for 600 yuan ($96.5) five years ago. “But to­day I find it hard to sell one even for 200 yuan”.

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