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Shoppers scooping up gifts for New Year

By Wang Zhuoqiong  (China Daily)

10:32, February 13, 2013

Air purifiers are in demand as New Year presents in Beijing this year as more people begin to worry about poor air quality this winter. [Zou Hong / China Daily]

Changing tastes - and changing ideas about how to celebrate the Spring Festival holiday - make finding the right gifts for the family more challenging than ever, Wang Zhuoqiong reports.

This week is the first time for newlywed Wang Jing to visit her husband's hometown in East China's Shandong province. To impress her in-laws and other relatives during the Spring Festival, Wang has handpicked many presents: two smart cell phones, children's clothes, bottles of olive oil and French wines.

"It is rude to visit people with empty hands," said Wang, a 31-year-old logistic manager in Beijing. It's Chinese tradition to visit family and friends with bags of gifts at the grandest festival in a year, when people are supposed to purchase nian huo, meaning "Spring Festival goods". "Nowadays, you never go wrong with electronic products and green groceries."

The flavor of the Spring Festival family reunion has been weakened over the years as Chinese earn more income and have more opportunities to travel - and more ways to stay in touch with the family back home without making a journey. But the need to call on business clients, family and friends during the holiday have remained strong, sustaining a massive demand for gifts, said Gao Jianfeng, general manager at Shanghai-based Bogo Consultants.

Roasted seeds and nuts, cigarettes, alcohol and local pastries which used to dominate gift baskets only about a decade ago, he said, were replaced by electronic products, healthy food, personal accessories, service products and gift cards.

Experts say that the best sellers among electronic products change quickly. MP3 players and Flash disks, once widely popular, are no longer much appreciated when iPhones, iPads and Samsung smartphones lure buyers in the gift market, Gao said.

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