Retail sales in China remain sluggish as the world’s second-largest economy faces 'difficulties and challenges’.

Chinese retail sales rose less than expected last month, official data showed on Friday, showing that demand in the world’s second-largest economy remained sluggish a year after strict Covid control measures were lifted.

Trading on the streets of Shanghai, China. File image: Wikicommons.

The 10.1 percent increase in Bloomberg’s survey of analysts was lower than the 12.5 percent increase, even compared to a lower base last year when health policies crippled much of the economy.

Retail sales have rebounded in recent months following a fall in the second quarter, but a slew of data, including accelerating deflation, highlight the difficulties authorities face in reigniting growth.

The figures come after Beijing’s top leadership said this week that China faces „difficulties and challenges” to its economic recovery.

One of the biggest sources of concern is the credit crunch in the property sector.

In October 2023, the total value of industrial enterprises above the threshold increased by 4.6 percent.  File photo: National Bureau of Statistics of China.
In October 2023, the total value of industrial enterprises above the threshold increased by 4.6 percent. File photo: National Bureau of Statistics of China.

House prices in major Chinese cities fell month-on-month in November, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said, as investment in property development fell 9.4 percent year-on-year.

However, industrial production improved 6.6 percent, compared with the 4.6 percent growth recorded in October, according to NBS data, beating Bloomberg analysts’ forecasts.

Urban unemployment was 5.0 percent.

The unemployment data does not include breaks for 16- to 24-year-olds, after hitting a record high in June.

China Real Estate Evergrande
Residential buildings by Evergrande in Henan, China. Photo: Wikicommons.

„November activity data painted a mixed picture,” analysts at Goldman Sachs said in a note on Friday, adding that the retail sales figure reflected „still subdued private demand and weaker-than-expected CPI inflation.”

In a separate note, they said, „We expect more housing easing measures in the coming months, including further easing of home buying restrictions in major cities.”

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Beijing has taken a series of measures aimed at boosting the economy, including issuing 1 trillion yuan (US$137 billion) worth of sovereign bonds in October.

„Macroeconomic regulatory policies continue to be effective, production and supply have risen steadily, employment and prices have remained generally stable,” the NBS said in a statement on Friday.

Sales of food and drinks in particular rose 25.8 percent in November from a year earlier — an unsurprising figure for most restaurants and bars in the country forced to adhere to Covid restrictions last winter.

Figures released earlier this month showed exports rose in November for the first time in seven months, although a surprise drop in imports highlighted weak consumer activity at home.

Date:

Shanghai, China

Story Type: News Service

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