It’s the time of the year again to light up the Christmas trees and adorn them.
Depending on where you are in the world, you may need to buy a Christmas tree - or simply go into your backyard to chop down a fir.
Given that China’s the world’s largest exporter in the world, it should come as no surprise then that it’s also the top producer of artificial Christmas trees. It’s also estimated that around two-thirds of the world’s Christmas decorations come from China - even though Christmas isn’t even an official holiday there.
Whoever knew that Santa’s logistics was headquartered in China?
More specifically, Christmas goods production take place in the surrounding Yiwu area in the country’s eastern Zhejiang Province.
That’s where over 600 factories and workshops are located. The market size of Yiwu is comparable to as many as 26 large department stores and is the birthplace of most Christmas products bought, sold, and hung up all over the world.
There are freight trains running from Yiwu directly to Madrid, London, Prague and Tehran. In fact, the London-Yiwu rail, which opened in 2017, is 12,000km long and passes through France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan. The entire journey takes less than 20 days.
Christmas production at Yiwu is large scale and no doubt the market is massive.
According to data from customs authorities in Hangzhou, Yiwu exported $3 billion worth of Christmas products between September 2016 and August 2017 - half of what the US alone spends on decorations.
US orders make up as much as a third of business for some Christmas vendors in Yiwu. Which is why they’re glad for now that the US-China trade war has for now yet to impact their cost and production. But suppliers have argued that any extra cost as a result of tariffs will be passed down to their customers.
Production at Yiwu is almost all-year round - with their only break coming during the Chinese New Year in January or February.
Other than that, Christmas trees are being made every day. Even on Christmas day itself.
Most orders, however, arrive in the summer to give workers enough time to meet their fulfilment in time for Christmas. As such, the busiest season for producing Christmas decorations is in June and July.
Here’s an infographic to illustrate the Christmas production prowess that is in Yiwu.
"The problem with these costs is that they’re often impossible to predict and are thus hardly ever considered when analyzing and comparing ocean freight rates"
Klaus Lydsal, vice president of operations at iContainers