Asia’s Spending Boom Reflects Differences29/12/2008
When Shen Hung-yang was growing up in Taiwan, the only presents his parents gave him were cash, which went right to his savings account.
Today the 51-year-old professor buys his three children presents “four or five” times each year. Monday, he and his wife bought Transformers action figures for their two boys, part of several hundred dollars they plan to spend on Christmas gifts.
That family-level change highlights a larger shift that is bringing cheer to an otherwise bleak retail season.
In the United States, holiday sales are expected to be their dimmest in years. But in Asia, which also is feeling the economic hit, long-term trends point to rapidly increased spending among the continent’s billions, particularly around the holidays.
In China, spending on consumer goods reached $120 billion last December, more than double that of December 2001, with much of the growth coming from Christmas sales, said Xu Xiaofang, an analyst for Beijing’s Guotai Junan Securities.
Between 2005 and 2007, holiday spending rose about 10 percent each year in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, according to local experts.
The spending underscores a larger shift in how Asians regard money.
While many older generations grew up in a save-first mentality, younger Asians — influenced by Western cultures — tend to take greater financial risks and “already are spending more like Americans,” said Bei Lien-ti, an expert in consumer behavior at Taiwan’s National Chengchi University.
Across Asia this holiday season, retail outlets have promoted Christmas sales.
At the mall in Taipei 101, the world’s tallest building, Christmas has become the third most profitable holiday, behind Taiwan’s National Day, when most Taiwanese take vacation, and Mother’s Day, said Nadia Fang, a mall marketing manager.
“Taiwanese only started to pay attention to Christmas about 10 years ago, when the society became rich enough to afford gift giving,” Fang said.
“Now Christmas and Valentine’s Day are two of our most important times for business.”
Source: Seattle Times