Supermarket chains selling cheap imported Christmas decorations are causing tough times for local producers. Traditional Czech hand-made decorations, such as ornamental glass baubles, are facing competition from factory-produced replicas sourced from China and sold at a fraction of the cost. Over the last ten months, 430 million crowns worth of decorations have been imported from China; consequently, domestic producers say they have to rely largely on exports to stay afloat.
Czech Christmas decorations are both laborious and costly to produce, with baubles requiring glass to be blown, then coated with silver colouring, engraved, outfitted with a cap, and finally wrapped in packaging. The process is undertaken by hand, with at least four persons involved in the making of a single bauble.
Producers DUV, based in Dvora Kralové, report a 80 percent drop in production over a decade, and now make 8 million individual Christmas decorations annually. Miroslav Šorma, chairman of the DUV cooperative blames Chinese imports for the decline. The imports sell for as much as 80 percent less than the hand-made Czech variety. Furthermore, producers claim the imports come nowhere near to the quality of the locally-made variety.
Czech producers also complain that Chinese producers are ripping-off their designs. “We cannot stop this,” noted Šorma, “Because as we export to the whole world, a Chinese producer can just buy our pieces anywhere, copy these, and put those designs on a plastic decoration and sell that.” Applying for a license for each local design is prohibitively expensive, note producers.
However, according to long-time Czech Christmas decoration seller Ivana Jandová, interviewed by Pražský Deník, a converse trend is evident of late, with more Czechs willing to fork out a little more for traditional Czech handcrafted decorations. The price difference between the foreign imports and the domestically made decorations is also shrinking, added Jandová. However, she also confirmed that the vast majority of Czech-made Christmas decorations sold through her business are sold abroad.