China's long spring holiday, which ended on Thursday (9 February), turned into the biggest spending spree for years.
GV EXTERIOR: Entrance to walled city in Peking with portrait of Chairman Mao.
GV & SV: Crowds outside Peking store. (2 SHOTS)
SV: Goods on display in store window.
SV: Man with spinning top on string outside store. (2 SHOTS)
LV: People queuing outside vegetable store.
CU & SV: Food being sold at stalls. (2 SHOTS)
SV: Meat hanging on display.
LV: Temporary stall selling food.
LV & CU: Cyclists carrying goods on saddlebags in rainy Peking street. (2 SHOTS)
GV & SV: People skating on frozen moat beside the Forbidden City in Peking. (SHOTS)
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Background: China's long spring holiday, which ended on Thursday (9 February), turned into the biggest spending spree for years. The three-day festival, which marks the start of the Lunar new year, is the major holiday in China. The official New China News Agency reported that people were spending money more freely than they have done for years on seasonal presents, food and toys in the major cities.
SYNOPSIS: In Peking and throughout China, the Year of the Horse was ushered in with great enthusiasm. The Chinese people, who had more money in their pockets because of a pay rise last year, went on a spending spree.
There were celebrations both big and small to mark the festival. In Peking a gathering of Chinese returned from overseas was held, but for many more it was a time to be spent with their families.
Throughout Peking, shops had stocked up specially with food and gifts for the festival. Traditionally, families hold a feast on the eve of the Lunar new year and this year, there was more for everyone. Wages have risen, but prices remained stable. The stock in most shops was wider.
Opening hours also were extended. Some shops began serving customers at six in the morning and stayed open until late at night. Restaurants also shared the business boom. In town and country, there were many special entertainments. Peasants in communes mounted colourful pageants modelled on traditional touring theatre groups.
But for many people the accent was on simple fun. Here, on the frozen moat outside Peking's Forbidden City, crowds took to the ice on skates.