BEIJING – The first week of the Chinese New Year generated sales to the tune of 1.01 trillion yuan ($147.33 billion), representing an 8.5 percent increase year-on-year, which is the lowest recorded since 2011, state-owned China daily newspaper reported on Tuesday.
The figures, published by the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, takes into account spending in shops, restaurants and on travel during the festive season.
Last year, the festive season witnessed a 10.2 percent year-on-year growth as the volume of consumption touched 926 billion.
The festival is marked by many people in large urban centers visiting their homes or on vacations to be with family or friends during the Lunar New Year.
This essentially jumps consumption and makes the season profitable for retail sectors. The spending growth during the New Year holiday is generally considered a precursor of spending for the rest of the year.
Electronic commerce was once again one of the biggest beneficiaries during festive season, also known as the Spring Festival.
E-commerce giant Jingdong (JD) reported a significant jump in sales revenue, which increased 42.7 percent year-on-year between Feb. 3-8, with smartphones, computers and home appliances recording the largest number of sales.
With respect to last year, kitchen items recorded the largest jump in sales with an increase of 399 percent, followed by furniture (185 percent) and luggage (148 percent).
China’s largest bank card operator by market share, UnionPay, saw its transaction volume reach 1.16 trillion yuan, an increase of 71.4 percent year-on-year.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, consumption contributed towards 76.2 percent of China’s economic growth last year, 18.6 percentage points higher than last year.
“Judging from major economic indicators, domestic demand has become a decisive force of China’s economic growth,” said Wang Bin, Commerce Ministry’s deputy director-general of market operation and consumption promotion department, Wang Bin.
However, the rate of increase in consumption during the first week of the Lunar New Year this time is less than that recorded in the previous nine year, according to the country’s economic news portal Caixin.
The Chinese economy grew by 6.6 percent in 2018, which, despite exceeding the 6.5 percent growth projected by the authorities in Beijing, was the worst recorded since 1990.