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It's already Christmastime for factories in China

Carlos Barria / Reuters

An employee makes plastic Christmas trees at the Zhongsheng Christmas Crafts factory in Yiwu, Zhejiang province on Sept. 13. Christmas comes but once a year, but for Christmas decoration factories and retailers in China, it starts as early as July and ends in late September, when massive orders from around the world arrive in Yiwu, located 185 miles south of Shanghai in the prosperous Zhejiang province. Yiwu is considered a bellwether for China's low-cost exports, especially exports destined for emerging markets. Orders come from places as far away as Europe, the United States and South America. This year, European demand for Christmas goods has dropped sharply, local vendors said. One estimated European orders were down 20 percent from last year, while another said his European orders had fallen by 40 percent.

Carlos Barria / Reuters

A vendor smokes next to an inflatable Santa Claus outside of his Christmas decoration shop in Yiwu, Zhejiang province on Sept. 13.

Reuters -- Shoppers the world over are stressed and forcing retail executives to be both more aggressive and more conservative heading into the year-end holiday period and new year.

U.S. retail executives are not reading too much into a recent uptick in consumer spending growth, while their European counterparts are dealing with shoppers afraid that the region is slipping into recession.

In the face of such prospects, the trick for retailers and consumer brands will be to figure out how to coax shoppers into stores and onto websites without shrinking profit margins through discounting, opening too many new stores or loading up on inventory that could go unsold at Christmas.

Continue reading.

Carlos Barria / Reuters

Natalia Malharoblishvki from Georgia buys Christmas decorations at a commercial area in Yiwu, Zhejiang province on Sept. 13.

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