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People's Daily Online>>China Business

Spring Festival sparks a "gold rush" in China

By Hu Tao (Xinhua)

09:09, January 30, 2012

BEIJING, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- A "gold rush" swept through China during the week-long Lunar New Year holiday this year, with demand for precious metals and jewelry surging since the Year of the Dragon began.

Sales of gold, silver and jewelry rose 57.6 percent during the week-long holiday at Caibai, one of Beijing's best-known gold retailers, according to data released by the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) on Saturday.

Other jewelry stores across the country also saw sales boom during the period, with customers favoring New Year-themed gold bars, gold ingots and other types of Dragon-themed jewelries.

"Long treasured by Chinese, gold is no longer owned only by a privileged few, but has become a new investment channel open to all," said Guan Qiang, assistant manager at Caibai.

The Spring Festival gives people a chance to preserve and present gold as gifts, offering hopes that it will increase in value and not be impacted by inflation, Guan said.

During the week-long holiday, which lasted from Jan. 22 to 28, the sales volume in Caibai and Guohua, another of Beijing's top gold retailers, reached about 600 million yuan (about 95.28 million U.S dollars).

The figure showed a 49.7-percent increase over that of last year's Spring Festival, said a report released by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Commerce.

Caibai began selling gold bars as investment items during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, but the trend of buying gold or silver bars during the Spring Festival has really taken off in the past two years, Guan said.

For Guan and his colleagues, the Spring Festival rush was an exciting but exhausting experience, as customers flooded the store and surprised clerks with their purchasing enthusiasm.

"With customers crowding and rushing in, we did not even have time to eat and drink," said a sales clerk at the gold bar counter surnamed Li.

She said each shop assistant had received hundreds of customers per day and wrote several times more orders than on ordinary days.

"You can hardly even see the gold bars, necklaces and pendants in the display case. People seem crazy about gold, snatching it up more like a 'cheap cabbage' than such a precious metal," said Beijing resident Miao Miao.

"You have to quickly decide whether to make a purchase, or it will be taken away by others."

Miao was shopping for a pair of gold bracelets to give to her granddaughter as a gift for the New Year.

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