It's the time of the year for Chinese people to show gratitude to their friends, business partners, and their own employees. A gift certificate for moon-cakes is good choice. However, it must be quite irritating for a gift-receiver to be told the cakes are all gone when they arrive at the moon-cake store. At a moon-cake sales booth in Shanghai, customers are quite disappointed.
"There should be some stocks, otherwise why did they sell so many gift certificates?"
"This is not an issue of just a few yuan, but an issue of their credit."
Festivals in China during the recent years have become an opportunity to boost one's network. Moon-cakes with fancy packaging are commonly given to represent one's friendship or gratitude. While single moon cakes usually cost about five yuan, low price for a basic boxed set of eight is about 80 yuan. For those seeking a bit more luxury, there is an eight-hundred yuan version filled with abalone fins. Western food retailers like H?agen-Dazs have also embraced the seasonal sales opportunity. Their ice-moon cakes are increasingly popular. Their vouchers are one of the most circulated in China, offering boxed sets that range in price from 270 to 1000 yuan-a sharp price tag in the moon-cake market. The huge market also breeds many scalpers. An anonymous scalper explains why moon-cake producers haven't prepared enough cakes to send out.
"The moon-cake producers know about this every year. There are many people who wouldn't pick up gifts every year. Scalpers like us would give them the information about how many certificates we purchased from gift receivers, so the moon-cake producers won't make too many moon-cakes."
Many scalpers even buy in expired gift certificate and then later sell them to their internal contacts from the moon-cake producing companies. The anonymous scalper says many moon-cake producers make money out of nothing. He cites an example of a package of moon-cakes priced at 100 yuan with the production cost at only 50 yuan.
"For example, the moon-cake companies sell gift certificates to companies and bureaus at 80 yuan, a 20 percent discount for these group purchasers. Then they would give out the certificates as gifts to people. Some gift receivers don't want to claim the moon-cakes, but want to get some reimbursement, especially on some expired ones. We scalpers would usually purchase the vouchers from these people at 45 yuan, and we can sell the vouchers back to moon-cake companies at 55 yuan to make 10 yuan."
Thus, 80 yuan made from selling to companies, and 55 yuan paid to scalpers. Moon-cake producers can make twenty-five yuan on each voucher, which only cost a few cents to print, a considerable profit as compared to making real cakes. Moon-cakes, the most re-gifted item in China, has managed to brew a special profit-making field for foxy businessman.