Changing Buyer Behavior Creates Challenges, Opportunities for China Suppliers

57 percent of importers to buy more from China this year, Global Sources' 2009 Importer Survey shows; 3,000 major buyers control two-thirds of U.S. total annual imports from Middle Kingdom


Hong Kong — February 27, 2009 — Despite falling consumer spending worldwide, many international buyers plan to increase imports this year, particularly from China, according to a new survey conducted for China trade specialist Global Sources.

Concerns over supplier stability and changing product requirements are driving up the frequency of buyer communication with suppliers, and a small group of major buyers remain in control of the vast majority of imports in developed markets such as the U.S., according to Global Sources' "2009 Importer Survey," completed this month.

"Close to 50 percent of surveyed buyers expect to maintain or increase their total import value in 2009," said Craig Pepples, Global Sources' chief operating officer. "We see a slight decrease in average price per item, and we know today's buyers require more flexibility in terms of order size. But China remains at the center of their sourcing plans, with 57 percent of surveyed buyers expecting to increase or maintain their total value of imports from China in 2009, as compared to 2008."

Among surveyed buyers:

  • 26 percent say they will increase spending on imports in 2009;
  • 20 percent expect to keep import spending flat; and
  • 54 percent indicated they will spend less on imports.



  • 32 percent of buyers plan to increase total import volume in 2009;
  • 18 percent will keep import volume flat; and
  • 50 percent expect to decrease purchasing volume.





  • 42 percent said they are making more inquiries to new and existing suppliers, as compared to 2008;
  • 29 percent are making about the same number of inquiries;
  • 29 percent are making fewer inquiries.



  • 40 percent use sourcing websites and search engines;
  • 39 percent attend trade shows and other face-to-face sourcing events;
  • 16 percent use trade magazines;
  • 5 percent use research reports.











  • The top 3,000 importers accounted for two-thirds of all imports into the U.S. by volume and value in 2008, according to U.S. Customs data;
  • 60,000 importers account for 75 percent of all U.S. imports by both value and volume.



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