This year, the traditional New Year’s wish of “Gong Xi Fa Cai” may be lacking in its usual appeal due to economic challenges and declining consumer spending. With a weakened economy, spending money has become the focus of the Chinese New Year festival, which celebrates the beginning of the Year of the Dragon on a Saturday and lasts for a week.
Over one billion people are currently enjoying this festive time, where authorities and schools remain closed while China is illuminated with hundreds of thousands of red lanterns. Families come together to celebrate and exchange small red envelopes filled with cash and gifts.
The significance of this year’s Chinese New Year lies in its first celebration without Covid restrictions. To stimulate consumer spending, e-commerce platforms are advertising special New Year discounts to boost sales. Despite last year’s growth by 5.2 percent, which met the official goal of roughly 5 percent, China’s economy continues to recover slowly due to various obstacles such as Evergrante bankruptcy, slowing exports, rising unemployment, deflation, and decreasing economic trust among citizens.
During this holiday week, many factories remain idle due to low demand from global supply chains. Attracted by travel restrictions being lifted after two years of Covid-19 pandemic limitations, billions of individual trips are estimated to take place worldwide. Additionally, air travel within China experienced a significant increase by 30 percent following the end of the pandemic. While most Chinese are visiting local destinations like Harbin’s Ice and Snow Festival, there is also an increasing interest in international travel with flights increasing to places like Japan and Thailand. However, group trips to Europe or other far-flung destinations have not yet regained popularity due to high prices and lead time requirements for organization purposes.