Household fitness equipment exports see rebound

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A cleaner of Misspao, a shared gym provider, cleans a treadmill located in Beijing's Chaoyang district. Photo: Zhang Hongpei/GT

After months of falling demand due to the coronavirus outbreak, Chinese manufacturers of household fitness equipment are getting new export orders, with the highest demand from the US, Germany and India.

Figures on exports that Alibaba sent to the Global Times on Tuesday showed that unique visitors for household fitness equipment on the platform rose 135 percent year-on-year from January to May.

Active buyers were up 220 percent, enquiries rose 100 percent and gross merchandise volume was up 130 percent. The top three export markets were the US, Germany and India.

A manager surnamed Ji with Shenzhen Zhuotong Technology told the Global Times on Tuesday that overseas demand is gradually resuming as suppliers in China are returning to work.

Ji said that there have been many inquiries in recent days, although few have turned into orders yet. Still, that's a big difference from April, when there were hardly any inquiries.

Meanwhile, Europe and the US have simplified approval procedures for imported fitness equipment.

A salesperson surnamed Qiu at equipment producer BFT Fitness based in South China's Guangdong Province told the Global Times Tuesday that most of the company's exports took place in late April or May as work resumed.

"Exports increased 70 percent in May compared with April, with jumping demand mostly from the US and some Southeast Asian countries," Qiu said.

However, as the pandemic is still spreading worldwide, outdoor exercise equipment and items for gyms are in much less demand than home equipment, Qiu said.

China's exports of fitness equipment account for more than 90 percent of the global market in terms of sales volume, and most of that is individual purchase, said Zhang Qing, CEO of Key Solution Sports Co.

According to Zhang, export orders jumped in May amid stay-at-home orders in parts of the US. Many people who usually go to fitness clubs found indoor exercise became the only option.

"Personal fitness equipment allows people to exercise and practice social distancing at the same time," Zhang said.

However, growth is likely to be more moderate in the second half of this year, Zhang said, as the pandemic wanes in the US. Gyms might be running as normal by the end of this year.

In the first five months of the year, the total trade of China's private enterprises reached 5.11 trillion yuan ($720 billion), up by 1.8 percent, accounting for 44.3 percent of the nation's total foreign trade.

The share of private enterprises was up 2.9 percentage points from a year earlier, according to China Customs.

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