It is a long-held stereotype that Americans like to spend their money and Chinese people like to save their money. However, this situation is quickly changing. In this article, nine astonishing ways of how contemporary Chinese spend their money will be revealed.
1. Extraordinary enthusiasm about real estate
Modern Chinese people seem to have gained an extraordinary enthusiasm for real estate. As soon as they hear about good apartments, they will join a long waiting list and rush to buy. Young college graduates are so eager to own an apartment that they choose to buy one upon graduation, calling themselves “apartment slaves,” as the loan will take the rest of their lives to repay.
Furthermore, most Chinese people are dissatisfied with having only one apartment, and will often buy more. Some even extend their purchases overseas.
The latest report released by the National Association of Realtors in the U.S. indicates that Chinese investors infused US$9 billion into the real estate sector of the country between March 2011 and March 2012, making them the second largest group among foreign investors.
After Chinese people spot a potential purchase and take a look, they tend to buy several units at once, and prefer to pay in cash. Their buying and paying behaviors amaze the locals.
2. Walnuts and crickets are good investments
Speculating on walnuts, Seneria gourds, and crickets causes the price of these goods to sky-rocket. In contrast, stock markets and real estate markets in recent years have generated low profits, or even losses.
The so-called “cultural plaything” market has loomed large in recent years. The price of cultural playthings, such as a pair of gigantic walnuts with an identical surface texture, was pushed as high as tens of thousands of dollars. Walnuts were one of the playthings for royal families in ancient times, and they draw interest from the wealthy again today.
3. Crazy raw jadeite betting
The jewelry industry in China has an annual output value of 200 billion yuan (US$32.7 billion), making China the largest consumer of jadeite in the world. The Chinese people’s expenditure and investment on jade is close to being insane.
Among everything, “raw jadeite betting” is the craziest—the moment that the rock is sectioned, speculators may either become millionaires or lose everything instantly. This “rock betting” is so foreign that it can hardly be understood by outsiders.
4. Spending thousands on moon cakes made of pure gold or silver
Media reports allege that Chinese government officials are spending thousands of US dollars buying moon cakes made of pure gold or silver. A set of “Guobao Chongqiu” is said to cost 47,620 yuan (US$7,780) in Beijing and only 2,000 sets are produced. The producer selects areas where government offices amass, and markets the products there.
The company said in a blunt manner: “We are surrounded by government offices. Most purchases of gold or silver moon cakes are used as gifts for government officials.” To facilitate the processing of orders for charging the expenditure to public funds, the seller also “considerately” offers multiple, smaller-valued invoices.
5. A specialized market for gifts that will never be used
Just like gold moon cakes, China has a specialized market selling gifts that will never be put to use. Merchandise ranges from moon cakes to health-care nutrition, and children’s educational products.
Those who actually buy them never use them, and those who do use these products never need to buy them. All that people care about is enhancing their reputation, and nice packaging. In fact, the merchandise may be totally impractical for any use.
6. Fond of stocking supplies
Chinese people were eagerly stocking salt when the nuclear leak occurred in Japan, and stocking water, cookies, candles, and matches when rumors of doomsday prevailed. At the time when the threat of Japan’s nuclear leak was at its peak, the unit price of salt in China increased 5-fold.
7. Overabundant prepaid gift cards
In addition to credits cards, prepaid gift cards flood China’s financial market. Statistics show that the face value of the prepaid cards issued in China in 2012 exceeded 2 trillion yuan (US$326.7 billion) .
To provide a frame of reference, the total retail consumption of the entire country in 2012 was 21 trillion yuan (US$3.43 trillion). The comparison indicates that the scale of prepaid cards is approaching 10 percent of the country’s entire retail consumption.
One thing to note is that prepaid cards have a lot of gray areas in terms of management, and such a characteristic has made prepaid cards an ideal tool for bribery.
8. Buying counterfeit products has become fashionable
To a certain extent at least, Chinese people are quite used to counterfeit products. Some of them even consider buying fake products to be fashionable. A wave of “Counterfeit Culture” has spread across the country.
The “Huaqiang North” area in Shenzhen City is the center of counterfeit mobile phones. Walking along the alleys or streets in the Huaqiang North area, you will be solicited by people who sell fake mobile phones.
9. Price bartering—a strange consumer sport?
When people purchase things from stores in China, they frequently encounter a situation in which the buyer and the seller cannot reach consensus after repetitive negotiating. Under such a circumstance, if the buyer decides to leave and walks towards the door, the seller will shout loudly: “Hey, come back. I will sell this to you at a loss!”
The first time this happens, you may feel that both sides are serious about the transaction. As the number of times increases, however, you start feeling differently. In the eyes of foreigners, this type of price bartering just does not make any sense.
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