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Boom in Monkey Memorabilia Marks the Dawn of new Zodiac Year

Prime demand for primate paraphernalia signals the arrival of the most popular birth year animal.

Photo: Monkey money: Chimp-themed currency from the People’s Bank of China. (Xinhua News Agency)
Monkey money: Chimp-themed currency from the People's Bank of China.
Photo: Monkey money: Chimp-themed currency from the People’s Bank of China. (Xinhua News Agency)
Monkey money: Chimp-themed currency from the People's Bank of China.

The dawn of the New Year signaled a boom in the sales of commemorative Monkey-motifed jewellery, toys, decorative items and coins. With consumer demand high both in conventional retail outlets and online, sales of monkey-themed pendants, bracelets and gold-inlaid-with-jade ornaments all soared. Even a number of global players – notably LV, Dior, Swatch and Estée Lauder – launched new products celebrating the incoming animal year.

The People's Bank of China was also keen to get in on the act, officially launching its 2016 Rmb10 Year of the Monkey coin on January 16. In total, some 500 million of the bank's commemorative copper alloy two-tone coins were issued. Mainlanders were given the option of reserving five of the first issue of the 27mm diameter coin, with the chance of securing a further 10 of the second issue. All of these were only redeemable upon presentation of an ID card.

With the commemorative coins acceptable as legal tender, many Beijing residents were keen to subscribe to both the first and second issues. As a testament to their popularity, long queues were in evidence at all of the bank's branches on the first day of issue. According to figures released by the bank, the coins were more in demand in Beijing than in any other city in China.

The popularity of such commemorative items is largely down to the fact that the Monkey is one of the best loved of the zodiac animals. This has seen demand exceed the usual level seen for New Year memorabilia, a time when items are usually bought as gifts related to the recipient's birth year.

Sales may also have been positively affected by the fact that 2016 marks the start of the two-child policy. Inevitably, this will see a surge in demand for commemorative items related to what will almost certainly prove a peak birth year.

Liu Qun, Beijing Office

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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