中文 |

Snacks and clothes are out as migrants buy gadgets for home

By : Xinhua | Published: 2016-February-22

A migrant worker carries bulky luggage at the Haozhou railway station, Anhui province in this file photo. During the Spring Festival holiday this year, migrant workers have lighter luggage, which indicates improvement in their living standards.

[InKunming--China]  Younger workers have lighter bags as they offer expensive digital gadgets as gifts to relatives

The size of luggage carried by Chinese migrant workers returning home for the Spring Festival is often the reverse of their purchasing power; the bigger the bag, the less money spent.

As legions of migrant workers embarked on their journey home ahead of the lunar new year, they were often seen carrying suitcases, canvas bags and buckets stuffed with gifts for their rural families.

While older workers tended to pack bulky snacks from the city and winter clothes, younger workers were often seen carrying lighter bags as they preferred digital gadgets as new year gifts.

Shi Jiawen, 19, marked his first year as a decorator in Fuzhou, capital of coastal Fujian province, by splurging 3,200 yuan ($500), more than his monthly income, on a smartphone for himself and a tablet computer for his sister in their hometown in landlocked Sichuan province.

Shi was among 12 of 20 young workers at the Fuzhou railway station who said they had purchased digital devices, mostly smartphones, for the coming holiday.

"Electronic products aren't so expensive," Shi said, adding that expanding Internet connectivity in the countryside has made the use of the devices "more convenient."

His father, though making more money, was more a paragon of tradition and thrift, spending just 500 yuan to buy local tea as a new year gift.

It was common to see mid-age travellers struggling with bulky luggage at the station.

Li Rongcai, a 47-year-old construction worker from Jiangxi province, had both his hands occupied by bags of tea and cigarettes, worth 1,000 yuan in total.

Li Lan, 40, a nanny from Hunan province, packed two large suitcases with winter clothes for her family of six after spending 2,000 yuan.

Several aisles away, four 18-year-old hair salon apprentices were playing with their newly-purchased iPhones, priced at least 4,400 yuan each, alongside their carry-on bags.

On a west-bound train departing from Shanghai, many migrant workers said they carried less luggage as they preferred to shop more in their rural hometown.

"Fancy goods that you get in big cities are also available back home at reasonable prices, so why exhaust yourself dragging them all the way home," said 22-year-old factory worker Xiao Pengyuan from Sichuan province, whose only luggage was a backpack.

Despite a slowing economy, China's retail sales of consumer goods, a key indicator of consumption, rose 10.7 percent year-on-year last year.

Xinhua interviewed more than 40 travelling workers who offered a mixed picture: While some complained about shrinking payrolls, many said neither their income nor expenditure were affected. While older workers are thrifty all the time, many youngsters prefer to spend away the bulk of their salaries, regardless of whether they're increasing or declining.

A report on new year purchases issued by e-commerce firm Alibaba said younger rural residents are rising as a strong buying force during the lunar new year shopping season. Clothes and electronic products are among their favorite purchases.

The report said many Chinese are now making new year purchases online and have their parcels delivered directly to their homes, a fashion now adopted by many migrant workers.

Lin Junyi, a 25-year-old hairdresser in Beijing, said he decided to return to his hometown in Hubei province empty-handed, as his online orders-several toys for kids and cakes from a renowned Beijing brand for relatives-will be shipped home directly.

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