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Social media campaign for boycott of Chinese goods hasn't affected their sales so far

Amid shrill campaigns on the social media calling to discard Chinese goods, and rising murmurs against them, Indian importers dealing with brands from across the border are an anxious lot. While sentiments are definitely going against the sale of Chinese goods, there are no visible signs of any slowdown in sales so far.

In fact, some Chinese brands are going full throttle with their sales.

For instance, the Beijing-headquartered Xioami Tech has got into a festive mood all over again with its Diwali sale having flagged off on Monday. Exciting discounts were offered at 10AM, followed up with a Re 1 flash sale at 2PM. The Chinese mobile phone and accessories maker’s ‘Diwali with Mi’ campaign with deals and discounts on its products is currently on up to October 19. The Re 1 flash sale offered Redmi 3S Prime and Mi Bluetooth speaker for Re 1 on the first day while it is 16GB Redmi Note 3 and 20000 mAh power bank on the second, and the Mi 4 and Mi Band 2 on the last day. In addition, the company is also dishing out coupons for additional discounts.

While the unofficial boycott on buying Chinese goods has yet to slow down their sales, there are rumours of businesses getting impacted in certain segments — especially those dealing in Diwali decorative goods and home decor products.

However, the general sentiments among importers of Chinese goods are that while five out of 100 customers may demand goods / products that are made in India, a majority is still going for Chinese, mainly because of their attractive price points and variety they offered. They also said that replacing Chinese products with Indian alternatives is possible only in a few cases.

DNA Money spoke to some importers and dealers of Chinese products who said while there certainly is a sentimental impact, it hasn’t impacted the business so far. In fact, they affirmed that there is still demand for Chinese products by both the corporate segment as well as end-use consumers.

Mumbai-based Rohit Chanana, proprietor of Sky Goods, has been importing various gifting products like crockery, table-top items, IT-related products, etc. from China, Thailand and Indonesia for almost nine years now and does an average Rs 4 crore turnover annually. “I have imported `torans’ (decorative items), crockery and household items to sell during the Diwali season. I haven’t cut down on the quantity of import from China this year. In fact, my view is that imports from China are only going to grow in the future mainly due to the innovative, variety products at very attractive pricing,” he said.

In fact, just last week, commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that India cannot impose a blanket ban on all imports from China. However, she did mention about the possibility of introducing anti-dumping duties and safeguard mechanisms on certain products to protect consumers and producers based on factual evidence.

Another Mumbai-based importer of a variety of white goods from China, Zainul Tinwala, promoter of H T Impex, said the company did face some worrying sentiments last week when clients they supplied products to, expressed concerns over Chinese imports. “They (clients) have requested to look for alternative solutions from India itself. We had some orders for bags and computer-related products and devices. While some could be sourced from India, there were a lot of other white goods that are not manufactured in India at all,” he said.

While most businesses have yet to see an impact, the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has said the sale of the widely-used Chinese lighting and decorative products have witnessed a decline. “These products are already with the wholesalers but there has been a 20% decline in demand from the retail traders as they are worried whether people will actually buy it or not,” said CAIT secretary general, Praveen Khandelwal, adding that CAIT will go with the mood of the people and honour their calls for a ban on Chinese products.

“We expect that the goods that are in stock with the wholesalers will get sold over time. If not, traders may get stuck in the absence of cash flow,” he said.

But the recently-concluded online sale festivals held by e-marketplaces such as Flipkart, Amazon India, Snapdeal and TataCLiQ show a different picture. Industry officials avow that a lot of Chinese products and brands were sold during the sale irrespective of their origin.

According to the Chinese government mouth-piece Global Times, sales figures for Chinese products on the top three Indian online retailers in the first week of October hit a new record. “Amazingly, the Chinese mobile phone company Xiaomi sold half a million phones in just three days on Flipkart, Amazon India, Snapdeal and Tata CLiQ platforms,” it said in a report.

Commenting on the festive buying sentiments, Sanjay Thakur, promoter, Cyber Star and president of eSellerSuraksha (a body of 1,680 online sellers from across India), said consumers are lapping up white goods including Chinese mobile phones across various e-commerce platforms. “The sentiments are very strong for the upcoming Diwali festival season as well. I am not seeing any decline in consumer buying sentiments for Chinese products — be it mobile accessories, festive lights, home decor items, etc,” said Thakur.

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