Christmas is a fading memory in the U.S., but in Apple’s Asian markets the big shopping season is just getting started.

Which is why retail chief Angela Ahrendts was talking to Xinhua News Thursday about Apple’s plans for expansion in China.

“We are opening five new stores before the Chinese New Year this year,” Ahrendts told China’s state-owned news agency. “Four of the stores are in brand new cities for us.”

By Ahrendt’s count, that will bring the number of Chinese Apple Stores to 20 — halfway to Tim Cook’s target of 40 stores in China within two years.

Greater China, which includes Taiwan and Hong Kong, is Apple’s next big market. The region generated nearly $30 billion in revenue in fiscal 2014 — 16.3% of Apple’s total.

“It’s just a matter of time,” Tim Cook said last fall, before China overtakes the U.S.

The Hangzhou store opens Jan. 24

Chinese New Year, which is based on a lunar calendar, falls on Feb. 19 this year.

The first of Ahrendt’s five new stores opened Saturday, Jan. 10, in Zhengzhou, capital of central China’s Henan Province. A second store is scheduled to open Jan 24 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, a popular tourist destination.

Ahrendt’s brief extends beyond brick and mortar to Apple’s Web presence — which in China is a significant factor. “The fastest growing store for us,” she told Xinhua, “is the Apple Online Store in China.”

Nearly half of China’ s population are Internet users, according to Xinhua, putting 632 million people within a few clicks of

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