March retail sales drop 15.8%, easing readings show signs of recovery in consumption

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/17 13:56:10


Graphic: GT

Retail sales in China fell 15.8 percent year-on-year in March to 2.6 trillion yuan ($367.3 billion), recovering from a 20.5-percent plunge in the first two months of 2020 and indicating that spending is reviving as the COVID-19 outbreak abates in the world’s second-largest economy.

Retail sales excluding vehicles fell 15.6 percent to 2.384 trillion yuan in March, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Friday.

Specifically, retail sales of consumer goods stood at 246.18 billion yuan, down 12 percent in March, picking up by 5.6 percentage points from the January-February period. 

Revenue in the catering sector, which was hit hard during the first quarter, plunged 46.8 percent in March, contracting by a further 7 percentage points from the January-February period.

Analysts said the slow recovery in the catering industry showed that many people were still reluctant to eat out as the risks of the virus linger.

“Customer spending on dining out is still far from recovering even though restaurants have made thorough anti-pandemic efforts such as disinfection and separate seating. Only 50 percent or even fewer customers are seen compared with the same time last year,” Yu Hong, a Beijing-based white-collar worker, told the Global Times on Friday.

With stimulus measures such as consumption coupons, and the virus gradually coming under control, the situation is gradually improving and spending will rebound in the second quarter of the year, analysts said.

First-quarter retail sales reached 7.86 trillion yuan, down 19 percent year-on-year. 

Online sales of physical goods in the first quarter reached 1.853 trillion yuan, up 5.9 percent, accounting for 23.6 percent of total retail sales and becoming a driver in the overall retail recovery.

In the first quarter, average per capita consumption expenditure fell 12.5 percent year-on-year to 5,082 yuan, NBS data showed.

Global Times


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